It's not just people who are having children late in life - Monday (August 13, 2012), Ginger, a 42-year-old former pet and research chimpanzee, gave birth to a healthy baby girl at local chimpanzee retirement home, Chimp Haven.
It was the fifth baby for Ginger, who lives in the same social group as Tracy and Valentina Rose, two chimpanzee youngsters at Chimp Haven who were born unexpectedly. DNA testing pointed to Conan as their father; he was immediately re-vasectomized.
Conan, who seems to be getting the reputation of being somewhat of a player, has now been vasectomized three times and all the females at Chimp Haven have been placed on birth control pills.
"We will be completing paternity testing by comparing DNA from all of the potential dads with that of Ginger's new baby," said Dr. Linda Brent, president and director of Chimp Haven.
Chimp Haven staff has been anticipating the birth of Ginger's baby since Flora, a 29-year-old former research chimpanzee at Chimp Haven, unexpectedly delivered a healthy baby female chimpanzee six months ago.
Pregnancy tests were given to the females in Flora's group after she delivered her baby. All were negative, except Ginger's.
To be certain that the urine test was accurate, Chimp Haven's veterinarian, Dr. Raven Jackson, conducted an ultrasound examination and estimated Ginger's delivery date to be late July or early August.
What makes this news particularly provocative is that Chimp Haven, a 200-acre wooded facility in Northwest Louisiana for chimpanzees primarily, is a retirement community, ergo, all of its males are vasectomized.
While every effort is made to prevent unwanted pregnancies in chimpanzee sanctuaries, occasionally newborns appear on the scene as a result of a vasectomy that was unsuccessful.
"We take our responsibility to prevent pregnancies very seriously, but sometimes life finds a way," says Dr. Linda Brent, Chimp Haven's President and Director.
"The new baby will be given the best care possible and will be raised by her mother in our forested habitat similar to a wild chimpanzee."
Ginger lives in the same social group as Tracy and Valentina Rose, two chimpanzee youngsters at Chimp Haven who were born unexpectedly. DNA testing pointed to Conan as their father; he was immediately re-vasectomized.
Conan has now been vasectomized three times and all the females at Chimp Haven have been placed on birth control pills. "We will be completing paternity testing by comparing DNA from all of the potential dads with that of Ginger's new baby," says Brent.
Ginger has previously given birth to four infants in research facilities. By all reports, she was a good mother. "She appears to know the right things to do," says Dr. Jackson, Chimp Haven's veterinarian.
"She is very protective of the baby and is breast feeding her. We are giving her as much privacy as possible, as she bonds with her new baby. The baby is healthy, bright-eyed, and is vocalizing. "
The baby has not yet been named. Hoping that someone will come forward to pledge lifetime support for the new baby (approximately $13,000/year), Chimp Haven is reserving naming rights for the lifetime donor.
"Whoever 'adopts' this baby will be like a grandparent who can have wonderful visits with the family and leave the feeding, child rearing, and discipline up to Ginger and the Chimp Haven care staff," promises Brent. If nobody comes forward to support the baby, the public will have the opportunity to suggest a name.