Wednesday, November 24, 1999

Zoo's new baby is Chaka's legacy




BY JIM KNIPPENBERG
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Chaka's final contribution to the local gorilla population arrived last week at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden: His ninth offspring was born Nov. 17 in the zoo's Gorilla World compound.

        Mother is Rosie, the 25-year-old female who attracted world attention in 1995 when she gave birth to the world's first test-tube gorilla.

        This baby, still of undetermined sex and weight, came about the old-fashioned way: Rosie and Chaka were together most of last winter. Then the 14-year-old Chaka, here on breeding loan since 1994, went home to Philadelphia in April.

        The birth is the zoo's 47th of a lowland gorilla, a U.S. record. Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo follows with 45. London's Howletts Zoo holds the world record with 53.

        The baby's sex and weight will be determined “as soon as mama is a little less protective,” says zoo general curator Mike Dulaney. “Traditionally, mothers hold tightly for the first several weeks, so we're looking at black on black and it's impossible to tell.”

        Mother and baby are in an area off-display and may not make their debut until spring. “With babies, you have to be careful with the temperature,” Mr. Dulaney says. “Even though it's mild out, remember this is a week-old infant.”

        With Chaka gone, the only male is Colossus, a 30-something silverback who has shown no interest in breeding.

        “We still hope Colossus will get more at ease and take over,” Mr. Dulaney says. “I'm hoping Chaka taught him something.”

        The zoo's gorilla troupe is six females, one male and seven juveniles. The rest of the gorillas born here are on loan.

       



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