Zane, a baby chimpanzee born in January, was adopted by another chimpanzee family after his mother, Chiana, became too sick to care for him shortly after Zane was born

By Eric Todisco
June 25, 2020 03:38 PM
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Detroit Zoo

The Detroit Zoo recently pulled off the unthinkable when it managed to get one animal adopted by another.

Zane, a baby chimpanzee, was born back in January to Chiana, 26, who is also the mother of 6-year-old Zuhura. But not long after Zane's birth, Chiana fell ill and was no longer able to care for her newborn, the Detroit Zoo said on its website.

The zoo's primate care staff at the Detroit Zoo began giving Zane 24-hour care, which included carrying him constantly and teaching him to take milk from a bottle.

After five months, Zane was placed in the Great Apes of Harambee building instead of a nursery so he could be around the other chimpanzees.

Detroit Zoo

"Every day, the other chimpanzees could see us caring for him," said Scott Carter, chief life sciences officer for the Detroit Zoological Society. "He was always near the other chimps even though they physically could not be together."

In order to prepare Zane for life with other chimpanzees, The Detroit Zoological Society consulted with the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ Chimpanzee Species Survival Plan, and they began a process of observing potential surrogate moms in the Detroit Zoo’s 11-member chimpanzee troop and their responses to Zane.

Detroit Zoo

Mother-daughter duo Trixi, 50, and Tanya, 29, both adult females in the troop, showed interest in Zane almost immediately, the zoo said.

Detroit Zoo

"Trixi is a confident and high-ranking matriarch," said Carter. “She was a wonderful mother to her daughter Tanya, and when we were considering who could be the best new mother for Zane, she stood out. She was very interested in being near him whenever she could and seemed quite taken with him."

Detroit Zoo

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After just one physical interaction with Trixi and Tanya, it was clear that Zane had found his new family.

"Zane approached and hugged Trixi and Tanya the minute he had the chance," said Carter. "Trixi is Zane’s primary caregiver, while Tanya, who has never had a baby of her own, loves playing with Zane, napping with him, and carrying him for short periods."

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Carter added, "We’re incredibly proud of our devoted primate staff for doing such an amazing job of caring for Zane and preparing him and his new adoptive family to thrive together."

Baby Zane is now living with Trixi and Tanya's troop at the Great Apes of Harambee at the Detroit Zoo, which is home to 12 chimpanzees total.