BALTIMORE — The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore’s 22-year-old chimpanzee Bunny gave birth today to a stillborn baby. The birth occurred in the chimpanzee night quarters in front of Zoo animal staff. “We are all very saddened by this turn of events,” said Meredith Wagoner, mammal collection and conservation manager. “This was Bunny’s first pregnancy and things seemed very normal up to and including her last ultrasound earlier this week. At this time we do not know what caused the infant to be stillborn. We are glad to note that Bunny is doing very well and shows no ill effects from the birth.” The Zoo hopes to learn more from the final results of the necropsy (animal autopsy) which won’t be available for a few months.
Zoo staff left the stillborn baby with Bunny and rest of the chimpanzee troop for a short time. “Research indicates that chimpanzees do exhibit what we call ‘mourning’ behavior, although we do not know for certain if in fact they do mourn their dead,” continued Wagoner. “Based on reports from other zoos, it seemed appropriate to allow the troop the chance to be with Bunny and the baby for a little while.”
The Maryland Zoo has a troop of 11 chimpanzees. Joice, the matriarch of the troop at age 40, is expecting a baby this summer. Joice is a proven mother and has had several previous successful births.