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January 11, 2021

The Chimpanzee Group Meets Raven

Over the last month, part of Raven’s early development as a young chimpanzee has included meeting and beginning to establish relationships and bonds with all the chimpanzees in the group. Still quite small and reliant on her mother, all of these interactions have occurred under Utamu’s close guidance as Raven clings to her. Luckily for Raven, Utamu is very social and high-ranking in the group, and she has strong positive relationships with the other chimpanzees. So Raven is already often in the center of social interactions and of interest to all the chimpanzees, even though she is only a couple months old. While always protective and keeping Raven secure on her hip or belly, Utamu has been letting other chimpanzees gently groom Raven. Even though she is quite small, the other chimpanzees have shown a lot of interest in interacting with Raven like they would with any other member of their family. It’s not uncommon to see chimpanzees near Utamu, greeting Raven with head nods to get her attention.

Since she went into labor with Raven, Utamu has had the continuous support of two older females in the group: her mother Rosebud and Beauty. They have been the core group with Utamu to help her navigate her new role as a mother. As Utamu bonded with Raven those initial weeks, the other younger females were introduced and spent some time getting to know the new baby. The last members of her family whom Raven needed to meet were the males.

As the dominant male, Hugo is pretty protective of the group, and so he was introduced first to the infant group to give him a chance to bond with Raven and Utamu and to prevent any jealousy toward the other males. Hugo was very happy to see Utamu and the new member of the troop, Raven. This was evident by his relaxed, droopy lip and head wobbles, which are behaviors common for him in play. Throughout the introduction, lots of grooming and playing were observed between him and Utamu as well as with the other females. Next, Kijana was added to the group, followed by Jimiyu. Both males were seen embracing Utamu as well as engaging in play sessions. During all the introductions, the chimpanzees were observed gazing intently and with interest at Raven, but they followed Utamu’s cues and waited until she was comfortable to groom or interact with Raven. For Raven’s part, she was observed peeking out from her mother’s hip, watching all the excitement and new friends. 

We are very excited for Raven’s integration in the chimpanzee group and look forward to watching her continue to establish these social relationships with her extended family as she grows up.


Today, the Saint Louis Zoo joins the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and its members in launching a new initiative aimed at zoonotic disease threats.

“COVID-19 has been a global wake-up call for One Health action,” said Sharon Deem, DVM, Ph.D, Dipl ACZM, Director of the Saint Louis Zoo Institute for Conservation Medicine. “This pandemic tragically reminds us of the ties that bind the health of human and non-human animals, and the environments that sustain all life. Through the collective work of AZA institutions that ensure the health, welfare, and conservation of non-domestic animals, we combat zoonotic spillover events, such as COVID-19, that threaten human public health.”

Read more about the “Reduce the Risk: A Crisis in Human and Animal Health” initiative at…/aza-launches-new-initiative-aimed-at-zoonotic-dis….

#OneHealth #ReduceTheRisk