Sedgwick County Zoo announces name for newborn chimp

The Sedgwick County Zoo said a baby chimpanzee was born via cesarean section on Tuesday,...
The Sedgwick County Zoo said a baby chimpanzee was born via cesarean section on Tuesday, November 15.(Sedgwick County Zoo)
Published: Nov. 16, 2022 at 4:33 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Update Nov. 17: The Sedgwick County Zoo announced the name of its newborn chimp born Tuesday, Nov. 15. On Thursday, the day the newborn was reunited with his mother, Mahale, the zoo announced the baby’s name is Kucheza (koo-CHAY-zuh), which means “play” in Swahili.

Video captured by the Sedgwick County Zoo shows Mahale and Kucheza’s reunion. A second video shared with the name announcement shows Mahale nursing her baby.

Drs. Laura Whisler and Janna Chibry of College Hill OB-GYN helped deliver the newest resident of the Sedgwick County Zoo on Tuesday. Chimpanzee Mahale gave birth to a baby boy at 12:48 p.m., Nov. 15, via C-section.

Zoo officials said the animal care team noticed changes in Mahale’s progress after laboring through the morning. The decision was then made to intervene surgically.

Drs. Whisler and Chibry were on hand to perform the cesarean section with the zoo’s veterinary team. The pair have consulted with Sedgwick County Zoo veterinarians on all great ape pregnancies for the past decade – most recently delivering Sumatran Orangutan, Lily, via C-section in 2018, according to the zoo.

“Mahale is recovering very well behind-the-scenes. Baby received treatment and bottle feedings from the animal care team overnight due to low oxygen levels,” said the zoo in a release. “As of this morning, he is doing very well and the team feels that he’ll be ready to be reunited with mom very soon.”

The zoo said Mahale and her new baby boy will remain behind the scenes until it’s clear that they are both healthy and bonded.

This is Mahale’s third offspring and “an important birth for the chimpanzee population,” the zoo said. The zoo explained that chimpanzees are listed as endangered and wild populations are decreasing due to habitat loss and poaching for bushmeat.