Baby chimp needs a name

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Hamilton Zoo's baby chimp needs a name.
Hamilton Zoo's baby chimp needs a name.

Hamilton Zoo has launched a public naming competition for their female baby chimpanzee.

Born on February 15, the infant is now being seen regularly with mother Sanda outside enjoying the autumn sunshine in the chimpanzees' enclosure.

Visitors are being treated with a view of the wonderful family unit, as father Luka seldom strays far from Sanda and baby. The rest of the troop - Lucy, Lucifer and Sally - will have more of a share in raising the infant once she gets a little older.

Catherine Nichols, Hamilton Zoo's acting curator, says the baby chimp is growing well and has brought a real sense of harmony to the troop. The other chimps have welcomed the new member of the family by showing Sanda respect through grooming her and giving her space to care for her little girl.

At two months old, she is beginning to take more interest in her surroundings, is vocalising and beginning to acknowledge others in the troop. The next step is for the infant to begin forming relationships with her keepers, so it's an appropriate time to give her a name.

"While the others in the troop have very western names, where possible, we encourage names that are relevant to where animals come from," Mrs Nichols says.

"We're looking for names which relate to the chimpanzees' natural habitat in central and western Africa. We think their ancestral homeland should be an important part of how the public sees and appreciates them."

Entries received via hamiltonzoo.co.nz will be assessed by a team of zoo staff, who will then select a winner, to be announced on May 19.

The winner of the competition will receive an annual zoo pass.

Chimpanzees are on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's list of endangered species. Identified as humans' closest living genetic relatives, chimpanzees once numbered millions across Africa, now it's estimated just 170,000 - 300,000 remain. The chimpanzees' main threats are habitat loss and the bush meat trade.

- Hamilton News

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