AT 7.28 yesterday morning another first was notched up on digital media, nine- year-old Nina gave birth to a baby male chimpanzee. Viewers were amazed as Nina immediately "knew what to do”.
Watched by about 600 000 viewers who linked up to the webcams intalled at the Jane Goodall Chimp Eden Institute in Mpumalanga, she cradled her baby chimpanzee and began to feed him.
Vets at the institute had expressed fears that Nina, a young mother – only nine when most chimps give birth at 15 – would reject her baby.
Nina was snatched by poachers from her mother at birth in the forests of South Sudan and was deprived of a normal chimpanzee childhood.
But after the brief birth, that took only minutes, instinct kicked in and she started licking the newborn to clean him and then bit off his umbilical cord.
Institute director David Devo Oosthuizen was delighted at the safe birth.
"She was restless last night so we thought the birth was imminent.”
He said staff had monitored her through the night and continued to do so at a distance.
"We don’t want to interfere with the new chimp. ” "He is wild,” Oosthuizen said. Many Facebook users said they stayed up all night to watch the birth.
The institute updated its Facebook page regularly on the baby chimp’s progress.
It has been inundated with messages of congratulations from all over the world.
One person was delighted that the chimpanzee was born on her birthday. Another suggested the baby should be named "webcam” after making history as the first baby whose birth was broadcast live across the world.
Animal lovers have been quick to share advice about how to look after the chimpanzee, Martina Nicholson who does public relations for the institute, said.
She said the institute wanted to give the newborn an African name .
Many of the rescued chimps come from West Africa and have French names. The public would be able to participate in choosing the name in a few days’ time.