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Baby Chimpanzee Named

Zoo News - Posted 20 May 2016

carrie chimp

Hamilton Zoo has named its three-month-old baby chimpanzee after a month-long public naming competition through the popular zoo’s website.

The name chosen is Chiku, a Swahili name for girls meaning "talker" or "one who chatters".

Acting Zoo Curator Catherine Nichols says it's an appropriate name for the little one, as the baby chimpanzee is vocalising more and more as she begins to notice her surroundings.

“We liked the name because it represents her personality: she’s a very chatty little animal.”

The winning name was chosen by Deanna Carter of Te Awamutu, who was delighted when she was told this afternoon that she had won an annual pass to Hamilton Zoo. She chose the name simply because it was cute and thought it would be a suitable name for a chimpanzee.

Chiku is the first chimpanzee to be born at Hamilton Zoo and brings the number in the troop to six, including her mother Sanda, father Luka, Lucifer, Lucy and Sally.

At this age, Chiku is carried by her mum Sanda on her underside at all times and will continue to be until around six months of age, when she will start to be carried on Sanda’s back says Mrs Nichols.

“On average, chimpanzees begin to take their first tentative steps from six months of age and she’ll only get stronger and more active as she grows.”

Chimpanzee life expectancy in the wild is up to 45 years, but they sometimes live up to 60 years in zoos.

“Her growth and dependence on Sanda is similar to what we have as humans, unlike many other species which walk and become independent more quickly,” says Mrs Nichols.

“All members of the troop will have a hand in raising her and teaching her over the coming years.”

With numbers estimated at no more than 150,000 in the wild, chimpanzees are on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's list of endangered species. Habitat loss, bushmeat hunting, and poaching for infants are the three major causes for the decline of chimpanzees in the wild.

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