A nine-year-old chimpanzee has given birth to a baby male in Mpumalanga, the first live broadcast of a chimp birth, the Jane Goodall Institute SA said on Wednesday.
Nina was the first chimpanzee ever to be filmed giving birth from beginning to end, Eden sanctuary manager of primate care Phillip Cronje said in a statement.
Ahead of the birth over 600 000 people had been monitoring her via webcam.
“She captured the hearts and souls of people the world over,” Cronje said.
The Jane Goodall Chimp Eden sanctuary is near Nelspruit, Mpumalanga.
Nina gave birth at the tender age of nine; most chimpanzees are able to reproduce around the age of 12 or 13.
Like humans, female chimpanzees are pregnant for about eight-and-a-half to nine months and their babies are born facing backwards. Although the sanctuary had a strict no-breeding policy, Nina conceived due to a “rare, but not unheard of, case of failed birth control”, it said.
Nina and four other baby chimpanzees were rescued from bushmeat hunters by local authorities in South Sudan in 2007 and taken to a zoo in Wau.
From there they were taken to a Jane Goodall Institute safe house in Rumbek, Sudan, and quarantined. They were then brought to Chimp Eden, a rehabilitation facility on the 1 000ha Umhloti nature reserve, 15km outside Nelspruit.
“At this stage it remains to be seen whether she will accept her baby or whether the staff at Chimp Eden will have to hand-rear the little one,” the Jane Goodall Institute SA’s executive director David Oosthuizen said.
“In either case, it is important for us to consider the plight of these wonderful, endangered creatures, which occur naturally in equatorial Africa.”