Chimpanzees have some of the best motherly instincts in nature, but sometimes, those instincts aren’t enough to save their babies. At the Sedgwick County Zoo in Kansas, a mother chimp named Mahale struggled when giving birth to her most recent baby. After an emergency C-section, the newborn chimp struggled to breathe, causing zookeepers to give him round-the-clock care.
The baby spent the first two days of his life away from his mother, and Mahale was understandably upset. But once the two were finally reunited, it was more heartwarming than anyone could have imagined.
Tragic Birth Complications
Zookeeper Devin Turner sat beside Mahale as she went into labor, but it didn’t take him long to realize something was wrong. The birth wasn’t progressing naturally, so she needed an emergency C-section.
Turner held the newborn chimp before anyone else, and he saw the tiny creature struggling to breathe. So, the zookeepers rushed the baby to emergency care and kept an eye on him 24/7. They gave him oxygen treatments and bottle-fed him. Once his breathing began to stabilize, Mahale was given visual access to him so she knew he was okay.
“Baby had a bit of trouble getting enough oxygen at birth, so he is being treated in the Zoo’s Vet hospital by animal care staff. Today he is doing extremely well and should be able to be reunited with mom very soon!” the zoo wrote in a Facebook update.
The zookeepers named the brave little chimp Kucheza, which means “play” in Swahili. Thankfully, Kucheza began breathing normally after about two days in emergency care. Mother chimps usually hold their babies at all times, so two days was a long time for the two to be apart. As soon as the zookeepers were confident Kucheza was healthy, they set up a beautiful reunion for the mother and son.
A Tear-Jerking Reunion
The zookeepers swaddled the baby in a blanket and set him in a bed in a chimpanzee enclosure. Then, they recorded the moment Mahale entered the room to investigate. In the video, Mahale enters the room dragging a blanket behind her. At first, she doesn’t notice anything unusual in the room. But then, she freezes when she sees a new blanket in her bed.
Once Kucheza moves under the blanket, Mahale’s body language changes. She scoops her baby up without hesitation and cradles him in her arms. After that, zookeepers said she didn’t put him down for weeks. Chimpanzee moms like to be close to their babies at all times because it’s how they keep them safe in the wild.
“Many have asked how Mahale eats and takes care of herself if she never puts baby down. The answer is that they’re both quite talented! Chimpanzee babies cling to their mothers’ fur so mom’s hands are free for foraging, climbing, nesting, etc,” the zoo wrote.
The Sedgwick County Zoo has posted lots of updates on Mahale and Kucheza since the birth, and each update is equally adorable and heartwarming. To learn more about this mother and son duo, you can visit the zoo’s Facebook page.
Watch Mahale and Kucheza Reunite:
Featured Image: Facebook