Lion Country Safari welcomed a baby chimpanzee to its troop on Jan. 28, the second chimp baby born at the facility in a little over a year. The baby is making her debut on the island habitats in the preserve, and guests driving through the safari may see her clinging to mom.
This baby has been named Lili in honor of the Tonkolili Chimpanzee Project, a conservation initiative in Sierra Leone. Due to the status of chimpanzees in the wild and the low number of births in the population, this birth is especially rare and significant for the conservation of the species. Her birth contributes to the Chimpanzee Species Survival Plan (SSP), a national collaboration to save them from extinction.
Lili joins a family of 2 females and 3 males, including 1-year-old Tonk, who has showed some interest in the baby. While mom Juniper is not yet comfortable with Tonk or the other chimps touching Lili, she does still play with Tonk while she has the baby on her chest. Juniper, who is usually shy and reserved in front of people, has surprised her care team by making a point to show off her baby to them.
Chimpanzee gestation is approximately 8 months. At birth, chimpanzees weigh approximately 4 pounds (1.8 kg). Infants cling to their mothers off and on for the first few years but will stay closely attached for the first four months before becoming more independent. Chimpanzees are listed as endangered and critically endangered in some regions by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with populations decreasing due to habitat loss, poaching and disease.
Lion Country Safari is home to 17 chimpanzees and is a proud participant in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Chimpanzee Species Survival Plan and the Chimpanzee Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE) Program.