Chimp Rescues Baby After Friend Dies In Childbirth

This infant chimp lost his mother at childbirth - but his entire community came together to give him a nearly miraculous second chance.

The tiny ape was born to Soona, a 19-year-old chimp at the Monarto Zoo in Australia who was a first time mother. Sadly, when Soona went into labor last Friday night, something went terribly wrong and she died of labor complications - zookeepers found her surrounded by blood, and discovered she'd died due to a uterine abnormality.

But what could have been a double tragedy became a testament to just how selfless chimps can be, even within the unnatural setting of captivity. As Soona was struggling with the birth, her friend, a female named Zombi, came and sat with her. When the little baby was born, a male named Gombe gathered him up and tended to him for the next several hours.

Monarto Zoo

Monarto Zoo

Meanwhile, Zombi, who is herself heavily pregnant, waited with her friend until she had passed. Afterwards she reclaimed the little baby from Gombe - and began to rear him as her own.

Montaro said that it's virtually unheard of for a heavily pregnant chimp to adopt an orphan like Zombi has.

"I'm humbled by what we've seen from the Chimpanzee troop over the last few days," senior primate keeper Laura Hanley said in a statement. "The unique situation certainly reinforces the strong bond our chimps share and the similarities these amazing creatures have with their closest living relative, us."


Monarto Zoo

Monarto Zoo

The zoo named the little infant Boon, since he was a "blessing," and a play on a nickname that keepers used for his mother. Of course, it remains to be seen how Zombi will the situation once her own little one arrives, but zookeepers are hopeful that she will raise the pair as twins and said they'd only step in if Zombi or the infants appear to need it.

"Zombi's a confident and capable mum, and has the support of an amazing chimp troop," Hanley explained. "We can't completely predict the outcome, but know if any chimp can look after two infants at once, Zombi can."


Monarto Zoo

Monarto Zoo

And while he certainly had a rough start in life, the little chimp appears to be thriving - and is proof of just how intelligent these animals really are.

"Zombi is proving to be an excellent adoptive mum," Hanley said. "From the minute she first cradled the newborn she's been amazing - grooming, supporting and nursing the little man as though he was her own."