A momma chimpanzee and her newborn baby had a tearful reunion at the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas, after being separated for nearly two days following complications from delivery.
The chimpanzee, named Mahale, underwent an emergency C-section Nov. 15, and her baby, Kucheza — “play” in Swahili — was placed in the zoo’s veterinary hospital by animal care staff. Mom and baby were kept apart for nearly two days before they were reunited.
Footage recorded by the Sedgwick County Zoo shows the moment mom was able to hold her baby for the first time.
In the video, which was posted to the zoo’s Facebook page, Mahale is seen entering an enclosure where zookeepers had placed Kucheza, who was swaddled in blankets.
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At first, Mahale doesn’t appear to recognize what’s in the blankets. She appears to peer for a closer look when a tiny hand stretches out toward her.
Immediately, Mahale snatches her baby into a tight embrace.
Zoo staff can be heard in the background starting to cry as they admire mom’s love for her baby.
“It’s one of the most powerful things I’ve ever seen. She knows it’s her baby laying there. The baby is being very still. She’s looking at it like, ‘What’s going on?’ And once he moves, you see the relief and the love and just, oh my gosh, it’s just amazing. As a mom myself, it’s just, oh my gosh,” the zoo’s communications director, Jennica King, told FOX TV Stations.
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The zoo explained on Facebook that Kucheza was born via C-section because of a complication during birth. The baby chimp had trouble getting oxygen and was hospitalized for treatment before making a quick recovery.
Once zoo doctors gave the green light, Kucheza was returned to the chimpanzee enclosure where Mahale could view him through a mesh screen. They were reunited once zookeepers felt it was safe to do so, according to KTVU-TV.
Mahale and Kucheza are now “doing great,” according to the zoo’s recent Facebook posts.
This was Mahale’s third baby.