It’s a girl! OKC Zoo welcomes a healthy, female infant chimpanzee born on October 12.
The Oklahoma City Zoo’s animal family continues to grow with the recent birth of an endangered chimpanzee. Following an approximate 8-month gestation period, Nia, 14, gave birth to a female chimpanzee at 10:17 a.m. on Wednesday, October 12 at the OKC Zoo’s great ape habitat. This is Nia’s second offspring.
Nia’s infant weighed approximately 4 pounds at birth and is in good health. Immediately after Nia gave birth, caretakers began observing her interactions with the newborn infant to ensure she was bonding with her. However, despite several opportunities, Nia was not displaying appropriate maternal behaviors towards her daughter and the OKC Zoo’s veterinary and primate care teams made the necessary decision to intervene and begin assisted rearing.
Through assisted rearing, a dedicated team of animal experts and select volunteers are currently providing 24/7 care for the infant chimp behind-the-scenes at the great ape habitat, and will continue to do so until the newborn can be reunited with Nia or a surrogate. The infant is able to hear and smell her chimpanzee family while being cared for off public view. Additionally, care team members wear a specially designed vest while holding the newborn that mimics chimpanzee fur and encourages the infant to grasp on. Primate caretakers have named the infant chimp Kiazi (key-azee) which is Swahili for potato, a root crop.
“The OKC Zoo is committed to caring for Kiazi through assisted rearing with the ultimate goal of reuniting her with our chimpanzees,” said Tracey Dolphin, OKC Zoo’s primate curator. “Kiazi will be “rooted” in her family troop and will be reintegrated when she is old enough with the help of our proven surrogate chimp mom, Kito.”
In preparation for Kiazi’s birth, caretakers trained Nia to voluntarily participate in ultrasounds and began training with Kito to become surrogate should intervention be needed. Kito is a proven foster parent and has most recently served as a surrogate to the troop’s younger male chimp, Ruben. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan® (SSP) for chimpanzees made the recommendation for Nia to mate with both of the Zoo’s male chimps, Mwami, 34, and Ruben, 10, resulting in this successful birth. Kiazi’s father is currently unknown and will be determined at a later date through a blood test.
Nia arrived at the OKC Zoo in 2020 from the Sunset Zoo, Manhattan, Kansas per a recommendation from the AZA’s Chimpanzee SSP. When she arrived, Nia was roughly eight months pregnant with her first offspring. However, after Nia gave birth she did not demonstrate positive maternal care towards the infant. The Zoo’s veterinary and primate care teams made the decision to move forward with assisted rearing and with a recommendation from the AZA’s Chimpanzee SSP, the infant, Maisie, was relocated to the Maryland Zoo, Baltimore, Maryland where she is thriving.
Native to Central and West Africa, the chimpanzee is currently listed as endangered according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. With declining populations, chimps are at risk due to deforestation, hunting and illegal pet trade. The OKC Zoo is helping bolster the chimpanzee populations by participating in the AZA’s Chimpanzee SSP. OKC Zoo guests can help protect endangered wildlife such as chimpanzees and wild places by Rounding Up for Conservation. Every time someone purchases an admission ticket, food or souvenir, they can ask about “rounding up” their total to the nearest dollar to directly and positively impact wildlife and wild places.
With the addition of Kiazi, the OKC Zoo cares for seven chimpanzees including females Cindy, 54; Kito, 35; Kirsty, 21; Nia and males Mwami and Ruben. Keep posted to the Zoo’s social platforms regarding updates on Kiazi’s progress.
The Oklahoma City Zoo is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily with the last entry no later than 4 p.m. The Zoo will be closed to the public during the daytime on Thanksgiving and Christmas days and on Tuesdays and Wednesdays between December 6 and February 8, 2023. Connect to wildlife and tons of fun as you experience BRICKLIVE Animal Paradise at the OKC Zoo. Sponsored by Devon, BRICKLIVE features 45+ life-sized animal statues made with almost two million toy bricks! BRICKLIVE Animal Paradise is open daily during regular Zoo hours through Sunday, October 30. Purchase advance tickets for general Zoo admission and BRICKLIVE at www.okczoo.org/tickets. Membership has its perks! As a member of the Oklahoma City Zoo, enjoy free admission all year-long, plus many additional benefits and discounts. You will also be supporting the Zoo’s animal family, education programming and conservation initiatives. Join or renew today at www.okczoo.org/membership.
Located at the crossroads of I-44 and I-35, the OKC Zoo is a proud member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the American Alliance of Museums, Oklahoma City’s Adventure District and an Adventure Road partner. Regular admission is $12 for adults and $9 for children ages 3-11 and seniors ages 65 and over. Children two and under are admitted free. Stay connected with the Zoo on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linktree and TikTok, and by visiting our blog stories. To learn more about Zoo happenings, call (405) 424-3344 or visit okczoo.org.