FIRST LOOK: Incredible footage of Rocky Zoo's new baby chimp

13th February 2018 11:18 AM
UPDATED 11:34 AM
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UPDATE: NEW footage has been released giving a first look at Rockhampton Zoo's adorable new arrival.

The footage shows mother Leakey bonding with her newborn baby.

The enclosure will remain closed over coming days to allow this relationship to strengthen.

INITIAL: A LITTLE bundle of joy has Rockhampton Zoo staff cheering, with the newborn baby chimpanzee the first born in Queensland for decades.

First time mother Leakey and the new baby are both showing healthy signs and the beginnings of a strong bond with zoo staff closely monitoring the pair.

Chimpanzee Leaky with her new baby while another chimp looks on.  Still image from a video provided by the Rockhampton Zoo.
Chimpanzee Leaky with her new baby while another chimp looks on. Still image from a video provided by the Rockhampton Zoo.

But it will be a few days until the public can see the cute pair, with staff blocking off the enclosure until Leakey is ready so as not to jeopardise her relationship with her baby.

Zookeeper Blair Chapman said staff closely monitored Leakey's pregnancy and while the gender of the baby is yet to be identified, it was incredibly encouraging to see the new mum doing all the right things.

"Leakey has been observed cleaning the baby and our staff will continue to keep a close eye on the pair to see when feeding begins - which could take up to another three days," Mr Chapman said.

 

Rockhampton Zoo's chimpanzee Leakey has given birth to the first baby chimp in Queensland in decades.
Rockhampton Zoo's chimpanzee Leakey has given birth to the first baby chimp in Queensland in decades. Rockhampton Regional Council

"This is significant as it's the first birth of a chimpanzee in the history of Rockhampton Zoo and probably the first birth in Queensland since the 70s when Ockie was born in Coolangatta.

"From here we will closely monitor the pair and the rest of the troop to make sure not only Leakey and the baby are doing well but that the social structure amongst the chimp family remains healthy.

"There is always a risk with chimpanzee births and Leakey is a first-time mum, which makes it harder again, and while there is still a way to go, we are hopeful everything will remain on track."

 

Rockhampton Zoo's chimpanzee Alon, who fathered a baby chimp, the first born in Queensland in decades.
Rockhampton Zoo's chimpanzee Alon, who fathered a baby chimp, the first born in Queensland in decades. Rockhampton Regional Council

Rockhampton is one of only three Australian zoos to house chimpanzees, alongside Taronga in New South Wales and Monarto in South Australia.

Councillor Cherie Rutherford said it was an incredible moment in the zoo's history.

"Given this is such a rare event, it really is exciting and nerve-wracking all at once as we experience this incredible journey with Leakey, Alon and their new baby," Cr Rutherford said.

"We know that plenty of people will want to come and see the proud new mum but they'll have to wait just a little while yet with the enclosure blocked off.

"We do not want to do anything that may jeopardise the social interaction of the chimps with the new baby.

"Once she's ready for that interaction again we will reopen the enclosure but until then the safety and care of Leakey and the baby are our top priority.

"In the meantime, the rest of the zoo will remain open and our staff will be monitoring the pair day and night in addition to video monitoring to keep the chimps routine as normal as possible with minimal disruption."

Rockhampton Zoo now has six chimpanzees: Cassius 46, Alon 10, Leakey 23, Samantha 34, Holly 29 and the new baby.