Mom rejects baby chimpanzee at the Kansas City Zoo

This female chimpanzee was born Friday at the Kansas City Zoo.
This female chimpanzee was born Friday at the Kansas City Zoo. The Kansas City Zoo

A female chimpanzee born Friday at the Kansas City Zoo has been rejected by her mother, forcing humans to intervene.

The zoo said the mother, Teeoni, began to nurse the baby after she was born in the late afternoon, but by Saturday morning Teeoni had become less attentive. Another female stepped in and cradled the infant, but she needed to be fed.

“In the best interest of the infant, zookeepers took action and retrieved the baby,” the zoo announced. “She was examined by our veterinarian team and was determined to be in good health.”

The chimp is being fed by bottle every two hours. Zookeepers fashioned a chimp-like vest for her to cling to.

In the meantime, the zoo celebrated a “party for the planet” this weekend in recognition of Earth Day, which is April 22. Sister Act Face Painting of Overland Park transformed youngsters into cheetahs and more. Other events centered on recycling and trees. For more information about Earth Day events go to BridgingtheGap.org and EarthDay.org

Officials remain hopeful that Teeoni will accept the baby chimpanzee, but if not they will seek a surrogate from among the zoo’s other females. Female chimpanzees often share in the care of babies, but it is unusual for that to happen so soon after birth.

The zoo has had success with ape surrogates before. In 2009, a baby female orangutan was rejected by her mother. Human keepers reared Kalijon for five months. About 30 staff members and volunteers worked with her around the clock and took shifts wearing a furry shirt for the baby to cling to. They bottle-fed her Similac every few hours. They slept with her at night in the straw-strewn orangutan barn. Eventually she was introduced to Jill, an adult female, to learn orangutan life skills.

The new chimp is the latest ape born at the Kansas City Zoo. Masika, a western lowland gorilla, was born last May.

Almost exactly a year ago a male chimpanzee, Milo, was born to a 40-year-old female named Rachel.

A chimp born at the zoo in October 2014 died unexpectedly the next month.

Matt Campbell: 816-234-4902, @MattCampbellKC