ST. LOUIS, Mo. – An 18-year-old chimp chimpanzee at the Saint Louis Zoo is expecting a baby this fall.
“We are very excited to announce one of our chimpanzees, Utama, is pregnant. Expecting a baby in the fall,” said Helen Boostrom, zoological manager of primates at the Saint Louis Zoo. “Chimpanzees have an eight-and-a-half-month pregnancy and there’s a lot of maternal care that is involved. They have a birth interval of six to seven years between infants and it’s been quite a while since we’ve had a baby here at the zoo, so we’re very excited.”
This will be Utamu’s second child. The zoo says that she gave birth to her first baby in September 2019, which, unfortunately, was stillborn or died shortly after birth.
Zookeepers are keeping an eye on this 18-year-old chimp.
“Utamu came with her mom when she was younger chimpanzee,” Boostrom said. “She came in 2007 and she, her mother Rosebud and another, Beauty, were introduced to the group in 2007 and 18 is about an adult. The average lifespan is in their 40s. We do have Rosebud and Beauty in their late 40s, so they can live longer.”
Kijana, a 28-year-old male, is the presumed father. A blood test will be done after the baby chimp is born to determine the father because there are other males in the troop.
Zookeepers are performing ultrasound examinations to monitor the health and development of the baby. Utamu is also being closely monitored by a team of caretakers.
“We’ve worked with the chimp group and Utamu,” Boostroom said. “We’ve worked with her with training, so we can do regular ultrasounds on her with the vets and keep track of the pregnancy. With our nutrition team making sure she’s getting the proper nutrition she needs and doing urine tests like you would with a human pregnancy, making sure everything is going well.
“Our veterinary team, our primate care team, and our nutrition team keeping a close eye to make sure we can do everything we can so that Utamu and the group is prepared and that everything goes well with the pregnancy.”
Learn more: stlzoo.org/Utamu