The Darling Daughter of Rockhampton
Ten little fingers, ten little toes,
Eyes of brown and a cute button nose,
The darling of the family, everyone will agree
The adventurously cute
For the last eight months, the chimpanzee family at Rockhampton Zoo have been glowing with pride after Leakey gave birth to a little girl, Capri.
She has captured the attention of not only the local Central Queensland community, but her birth made international headlines as being the first chimpanzee born in captivity in Queensland in over 40 years.
Her birth came as a surprise and relief to zoo keepers.
It was no secret that Leakey, Holly and Samantha, the ladies of the chimpanzee family had been doing more than just courting with young stud Alon, but in the cosmic world of luck and timing, a baby was conceived.
Now in the case of a wishful human being, a simple wee on a stick and a blood test could confirm whether a bundle of joy was on the way. But pregnancy testing at Rockhampton Zoo had to be quick, creative and accurate, and had to be done with zero contact with the chimpanzees. Keepers found themselves eagerly observing the urinal patterns of Holly, Samantha and Leakey over the next few months and would quickly obtain samples where they could.
After a few positive tests, the keepers were positively ecstatic to confirm that Leakey was pregnant.
Now it’s a well-known fact in the chimp world that uncomplicated and successful births for first time mums is the exception, not the standard. Leakey’s health and wellbeing was of upmost importance so the zoo increased their observations of the chimpanzees and increased their training and health checks.
In the early hours of the 12 February 2018, three weeks before the anticipated due date, Leakey went into labour. Keepers woke to the news that the glowing mum they’d been monitoring for months had experienced an uncomplicated birth and was cradling a beautiful little girl.
In the following days and weeks, Leakey and Capri were closely observed and monitored around the clock and public access to see the chimpanzees was closed off to allow Leakey time to bond with her baby in private. Both mother and daughter showed no signs of ill health and the other chimpanzees adapted well to the new addition to their family.
In her short eight months, Capri has achieved all her baby chimpanzee milestones while capturing the hearts of her family and the public.
Of late, she has shown strong signs of independence by climbing on the bamboo by herself and making her way around the enclosure alone. Leakey was cautious not to let her precious daughter out of her site in the first few months, but now is happy to let her climb and play over the other chimps. She’s no helicopter parent, but is also never far away.
Capri is three times stronger than a human baby, so her easiest means of transport is clinging to the underneath of Leakey. In the next year she will figure out that it’s much more fun and adventurous to ride on mums back.
Capri will continue to be breastfeed until around four years of age, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t been taste testing everything. Every day she is touching, tasting, chewing, biting and licking food, leaves, sticks and whatever else she can get her hands on. She’s also using her mouth to test out her vocal chords, joining in on group greetings and vocalisations.
While we don’t know her height or weight, our conventional human measurements of success are not necessary and would cause stress to both mum and Capri. It’s evident that she is advancing and showing all the right signs of growth and with the continuing and enduring outpour of love and affection from the chimpanzee family, zoo keepers and visitors we expect to see her flourish.
Capri is not shy of attention – Come meet her and the other members of the chimpanzee family at Rockhampton Zoo. At 3pm our expert zoo keepers serve up a delicious afternoon tea for the chimps and give an informative talk on the chimpanzees and the struggles of the wild population in Africa.