Chimpanzee infant due Fall 2022 – OKC Zoo committed to helping conserve this endangered species.
The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is proud to announce that its female chimpanzee, Nia, is going to be a mom! Nia, 14, one of the OKC Zoo’s adult, female chimpanzees is expecting a baby, anticipated to be born later this fall. This will be the second offspring for Nia.
“Any birth is exciting at the Zoo, but one for an endangered species is significant and thrilling for us,” said Pace Frank, the OKC Zoo’s assistant curator of primates. “The Zoo is committed to the conservation of chimpanzees. In partnership with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and their Species Survival Plan for chimpanzees, we continue to positively impact their population while raising awareness for the protection of their habitat.”
Nia came to the OKC Zoo on a recommendation with the AZA’s Species Survival Plan® (SSP) for chimpanzees from the Sunset Zoo, Manhattan, Kansas, in 2020. When she arrived, Nia was roughly eight months pregnant with her first offspring. However, after Nia gave birth she did not display the appropriate maternal behaviors towards the infant. The Zoo’s primate care team with consultation from the veterinary team made the decision to remove and hand-rear the infant. With guidance from the AZA’s Chimpanzee SSP, the recommendation was made to relocate the infant to the Maryland Zoo, Baltimore, Maryland, an AZA-member zoo that has had a successful history introducing infant chimps to foster mothers. The infant was named Maisie through a public vote hosted by Maryland Zoo and she continues to grow and thrive among her troop.
In preparation for this impending birth, primate caretakers are training with Nia to voluntarily participate in ultrasounds to monitor the health of the baby. Although the Zoo’s primate care team is hopeful Nia will display appropriate maternal behavior, caretakers are also training with Kito, an adult female chimpanzee in the troop, to prepare her for the role of a surrogate should intervention be needed. Kito is a proven surrogate and has most recently served as a one to the troop’s younger male Rueben.
The Zoo’s veterinary team confirmed Nia’s pregnancy through a pregnancy test. She is expected to give birth this fall following an approximate 8-month gestation period. Per a breeding recommendation through the AZA’s Chimpanzee SSP, Nia was paired with both of the Zoo’s male chimps, Mwami, 34, and Ruben, 10, and successfully conceived. The father of the infant is currently unknown and will be determined through a blood test. Nia is healthy and her pregnancy is progressing well. She is continuing to receive excellent care and attention from her caretakers who are working closely with the Zoo’s veterinary team to monitor her through ongoing exams and wellness checks.
Native to Central and West Africa, the chimpanzee is currently listed as endangered according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). 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 at the OKC Zoo, they can ask about “rounding up” their total to the nearest dollar to directly and positively impact wildlife and wild places.
The OKC Zoo is home to six chimpanzees including females Cindy, 54; Kito, 35; Kirsty, 21 and Nia plus males Mwami and Ruben. Stay tuned to the Zoo’s social media platforms for updates about Nia’s pregnancy.
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. Purchase advance tickets are required for all guests and ZOOfriends members and can be purchased at http://www.okczoo.org/tickets. 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 up-to-date with the Zoo on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok, and by visiting Our Stories. Zoo fans can support the OKC Zoo by becoming a member. Memberships can be purchased at ZOOfriends.org or any place admission is sold in the Zoo’s Entry Plaza during regular business hours. To learn more about this event and Zoo other happenings, call (405) 424-3344 or visit www.okczoo.org.