Lifestyle & Belief

Baby chimpanzee born live on world's first chimp birth cam (VIDEO)



Nina the chimp refuels while she waits to give birth at the Jane Goodall Institute's Chimp Eden sanctuary in South Africa.


Jane Goodall Institute South Africa

UPDATE: At 7:28 a.m. on Jan. 23, 2013, several days later than expected, Nina the chimpanzee gave birth to a healthy male baby.

It was the first chimp birth ever to be filmed and broadcast online, and was watched by as many as hundreds of thousands of people all over the world.

The delivery was "over within minutes," according to the executive director of the Jane Goodall Institute South Africa, David Devo Oosthuizen.

"Her instincts immediately kicked in after giving birth and she cleaned the baby boy. Nina and her son will now be in active observation."

You can continue to watch Nina and her new baby on the live stream. They will remain in a separate enclosure until their keepers are sure that it's safe for them to join the group, which is expected to be when the baby is around one month old. Find pictures of Nina and her son on the Institute's Facebook page.

The original article was published on Jan. 14, 2013.

Ever wondered what a chimpanzee birth looks like? If so, today could be your lucky day. 

For Nina the pregnant chimp is ready to drop, live on the world's first online birth cam, set up by the Jane Goodall Institute at its Chimp Eden sanctuary in Mpumalanga, South Africa.

Fret not, animal lovers: according to the institute, special care has been taken to ensure that the filming of the 24-hour live stream doesn't disturb Nina.

Chimp mothers naturally seek solitude when they're ready to give birth, according to Nature scientific journal, which means close observation of the process is rare. It was only in 2011 that researchers discovered that chimpanzee babies, like humans, are delivered facing backwards — a feature long thought to be unique to our species.

Yet while keepers are giving Nina plenty of space, there could be complications for other reasons. At 9 years old, she is about six years younger than the average first-time chimp mother, institute director David Devo Oosthuizen explains.

More from GlobalPost: South Africa sics drones on rhino poachers

Her pregnancy was an accident after the contraceptive implant she was fitted with failed, he said in a press release.

GlobalPost's South Africa correspondent, Erin Conway-Smith, says this could bring new positive attention to Chimp Eden after terribly bad news last year.

Just six months ago, the sanctuary was the site of tragedy, when a US graduate student was critically injured by two chimpanzees who pulled him under a fence and dragged him for more than half a mile into their enclosure, Conway-Smith explained.

Human error was blamed in the attack, and the chimps weren't put down, but the experience was a traumatic one for Chimp Eden.

But further complications could arise after the live birth. Nina was snatched from her mother as an infant by bushmeat hunters, so there's a chance she won't know how to look after her own baby.

"We have no idea whether she will accept her baby or whether the primate staff at Chimp Eden will have to hand-rear the little one," Oosthuizen said.

If that all sounds very dramatic, that's part of why the institute decided to live-stream Nina's delivery.

"We want to tell a story," Oosthuizen told South Africa's Times Live news site.

Chimp conservation is often overlooked compared to other endangered African species, like rhinos, he said. And yet in 10 years' time, poaching and deforestation might mean there are no chimpanzees left in the wild.

Follow the latest developments on the Jane Goodall Institute Facebook page, at or via the live feed below. Keepers say Nina is due to go into labor any day now.

Streaming video by Ustream

Follow Erin Conway-Smith @ejcs, who contributed reporting from Johannesburg.