Baby chimpanzee girl “Nori” was born on Aug. 2, 2010 at 7:30 a.m to 16-year-old chimp Maki. She is the first of her species to be born in the zoo in 12 years. After delivery, mother and baby seemed to be doing fine, and the two were scheduled to be on exhibit the next morning, but the viewing was postponed because zoo staff noticed the mother wasn’t handling the baby properly.
On Aug. 4, 2010, Rod Hackney wrote on the zoo’s website, “The staff has not been happy with the way Maki, a first-time mother, has held the baby, many times upside down. But while Maki is not exhibiting all the mothering skills the staff had hoped, she is showing interest and affection for the baby.”
At the time, Nori weighed three pounds, and staff noticed she wasn’t gaining weight. By Aug. 9, the staff decided it was in Nori’s best interest to remove her from her mother to be hand-reared for brief periods during the week.
“It was the mother’s first time and she didn’t know what to do. We gave her every chance,” said Tom Gillespie, spokesman for the Asheboro zoo. “(Nori’s) doing as well as we could expect. She was hand-reared for a few weeks after birth, and she was bottle-fed and pretty much treated her like an infant.”
Gillespie said there’s no way of telling if Nori will be ready for exhibit in the spring, but said the staff have already begun to introduce her to the other chimps. Nori now weighs 10 pounds, and gets to touch some of the other chimps through bars.
“We’ve introduced her to other females in a controlled setting,” explained Gillespie. “It’s a very gradual thing, but we’re wanting her to think like a chimp. She was beginning to identify with humans. She has to learn chimp society nuances, because chimp society is quite complicated.”
He said the staff has to be sure she is introduced to the others properly because once she enters the exhibits with the group, it could be dangerous for staff to enter if they begin to hurt her.
Staff Writer Dawn Kurry can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ex. 43, or by e-mail at email@example.com.