18 Feb 2016

Baby chimp welcomed to Hamilton zoo

8:38 pm on 18 February 2016

Hamilton Zoo has welcomed a highly anticipated baby chimpanzee to its ranks.

New mum Sanda with her baby daughter

New mum Sanda with her baby daughter. Photo: Supplied

The adult chimpanzee Sanda gave birth to a daughter late on Monday night.

It brings the zoo's chimpanzee population up to six, she joins her parents Sanda and Luka, plus the other adults Lucy, Lucifer and Sally.

Sanda's labour and birth was filmed by the zoo, the baby chimps father Luka could be seen closely watching over Sanda during her delivery.

The Hamilton Zoo's acting curator Catherine Nichols said Luka's presence at the birth shows he's a "doting dad."

Ms Nichols said Luka displayed the same behaviour while Sanda was pregnant.

"Luka's behaviour is very encouraging for us, he will be vital to the baby's upbringing and acceptance into the troop" she said.

Zoo staff had already observed the other chimpanzees checking out the new baby from a distance, but they had not pushed the maternal boundaries and were giving Sanda some space.

Ms Nichols said chimps post birth behaviour is similar to humans, and that Sanda and her baby are likely to stay out of sight in the chimp house for about a week before visitors can see them.

Chimpanzees are on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's list of endangered species.