Saturday, October 30, 2004

UNEXPECTED BIRTHS AT SANCTUARY

Pregnancies Surprise Workers At Wildlife WayStation
4-Pound Female Chimp Born At Facility

Although the Wildlife WayStation considers vasectomy to be the best option for keeping chimpanzees from breeding, the method may need some tweaking. Several females were discovered pregnant during the month of October.

The 160-acre animal sanctuary is in the Angeles National Forest north of Los Angeles. Officials there said a 4-pound female chimpanzee was born last Friday to Ernesta, who is 10 ½ years old.
"We're proud to announce a rare bundle of joy at the WayStation," said sanctuary founder and director Martine Colette. "Mother and baby are doing just fine."

Nine-year-old Shake is due in December, Colette said.

Vanilla, who is almost 11, gave birth nine weeks prematurely to an underdeveloped fetus on Oct. 19. There is a 20 percent stillbirth rate among chimps.

During a recent, twice-a-year health exam, veterinarian James Mahoney realized that the three chimps were pregnant.

Of the 50 at the Wildlife WayStation, only two are male and both had been vasectomized -- one in October 2000 and another in July 2003.

It has not been determined which surgery -- or if both vasectomies -- failed.

In the 28-year history of the sanctuary, 48 animals have been born. The facility attempts to avoid breeding....