Keeva, the baby chimp, was born at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore last month to a 27-year-old longtime member of the zoo’s chimp troop.
While she was born a healthy 1.17 kilograms, her mother wasn’t caring for her properly, zoo officials said.
So began a search for a surrogate mother for the young chimp, who has been hand-reared by zoo staff.
Luckily, a potential surrogate has been found in Tampa, Florida.
Abby, a 32-year-old chimp at Lowry Park Zoo, who has previously raised other orphan chimps from infancy to adolescence, has been chosen for the task.
“We know Abby has the instincts and skills to raise a baby chimp,” Lowry Park Zoo’s general curator, Lee Ann Rottman, said, adding that she is confident Abby will raise Keeva as her own.
Keeva has since arrived at Tampa but will not be introduced to her surrogate mother until she if four to six months old.
She continues to be cared for by humans and kept behind a protective mesh that allows adult chimps to see, hear and smell her.
According to reports, Abby is already among those watching the little chimp with great interest as Keeva learns to hold up her head, change facial expressions and vocalise.
Infant chimps are dependent on their mothers for at least five years, the endangered species are considered our closest living genetic relatives.