The infant will be cared for by her surrogate mother, Abby.

A baby chimpanzee has come a long way to make a new home at the Maryland Zoo.

The Oklahoma City Zoo made the decision to relocate the infant following birth mother Nia's struggle adjusting to motherhood. The female chimp, who was born on August 28, arrived at the zoo in late September, where she will be raised by surrogate mother Abby. She marks the 15th addition to the chimpanzee troop, joining youngsters Lola and Violet.

“Hand-raising a baby chimp is a huge undertaking and not one to be taken lightly,” Erin Grimm, mammal collection and conservation manager for the Zoo, said in a press release. “However, we are always happy to help our zoo colleagues, especially when it is in the best interest of the animal in question. This little chimp will be a welcome addition to our troop.”

chimpanzee

The Oklahoma City Zoo coordinated the move with the Association of Zoos & Aquarium's Chimpanzees Species Survival Plan. Members from both zoos met halfway by car to transfer the chimp since infant chimps require extensive hands-on assistance.

Currently, the chimp is housed in a nursery, where team members provide continual care, including bottle-feeding and using fringed blankets so she can practice her gripping skills. The nursery is located in the staff observation room, which Grimm explains is to familiarize the other chimps with the baby, as well as immerse the young one in her new environment.

“It is also important for the baby to hear chimp noises and be exposed to all their sounds and smells as early as possible to help with the transition to the surrogate mom and normal chimp life when she is ready," she said. 

Abby, the Maryland Zoo's matriarch chimpanzee, has had prior experience as a surrogate mother, so she was seen as a good fit for the new baby. Zookeepers plan to introduce the two to each other when the baby reaches 4-6 months.

While the task of hand-rearing an infant animal can be time-intensive and costly, Grimm is excited to witness the little one's growth at the zoo.

“We can’t wait to see her develop and to share her milestones with the public from behind-the-scenes at Chimp Forest," she said. 

**Photos courtesy of the Maryland Zoo

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