OKC Zoo Adopts Infant Chimpanzee

Monday, September 17th 2012, 12:27 pm
By: News 9

The Oklahoma City Zoo adopts a new infant chimpanzee into its troop. After being hand-raised at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo, seven-month-old Ruben arrived in Oklahoma City on July 30.

Ruben needed a new home after a rough start in life. His mother, Rukiya, died 24 hours after giving birth. As if the loss of his mother wasn't enough, zoo officials say he was treated roughly by his father and his surrogate mother didn't accept him. That's when the Oklahoma City Zoo stepped in to help.

"The big benefit of being accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is collaboration with other zoos," said Alan Varsik, Oklahoma City Zoo deputy director. "This is especially true for the well-being of our animals, such as being able to provide the long-term social health of this infant chimp, Ruben."

Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo caregivers gave Ruben around–the-clock care since his birth. They also traveled with him to Oklahoma City and stayed for the first 72 hours to monitor the transition to his new home.

After just a few weeks, zoo officials say Ruben is blending well and being accepted by his new chimp family. Gradually, he has been introduced to the dominate male, Mwami; his surrogate mother, Kito; adult male,Quadeer; adult female, Cindy; and four-year-old, Zoe.

"Our Zoo has had two successful chimpanzee surrogate situations and we are gaining a good reputation among accredited zoos for our surrogate program," said Laura Bottaro, Oklahoma City Zoo mammal curator.

The Zoo plans to continue its surrogacy efforts as needed locally and abroad as part of the Chimpanzee Species Survival Plan, a cooperative conservation and breeding program for species at risk of extinction.

Watch for updates on Ruben's progress and debut dates! Or follow Ruben and the other OKC Zoo animals on Facebook!