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St. Louis Zoo Chimpanzee Utamu To Give Birth This Fall

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Ethan Riepl
18-year-old chimpanzee Utamu sits in front of her mother, Rosebud, in 2020 at the St. Louis Zoo.

St. Louis Zoo resident Utamu is pregnant. The 18-year-old chimpanzee is expected to give birth this fall. If she delivers a healthy baby, it will be the first member of the third generation of chimps at the zoo.

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Helen Boostrom
Helen Boostrom, the zoological manager of primates at St. Louis Zoo, stands by the chimpanzee enclosure as Utamu has a snack behind her.

“Babies stay with their mom for at least six years for chimpanzees, and so there’s a lot of social interaction and benefits for Utamu, but [also] the whole group is involved,” said Helen Boostrom, the zoological manager of primates at the zoo.

“Our youngest [chimpanzee] is 18 and our oldest are in their late 40s, so having that next generation just increases the social dynamics and interactions between the groups, which is really, really important for a chimpanzee group.”

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, Boostrom talked about how zookeepers are caring for Utamu during her pregnancy, what to expect during the birth and how a new baby may alter the group dynamics of the facility’s nine chimpanzees.

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Emily is the senior producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

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