Chimp Mirella was not pregnant, says doctor

Chimp Mirella was not pregnant, says doctor

The untimely death of Mirella, a female chimpanzee at the Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens on Monday, has set back the zoo’s plan to breed primates in captivity.

The zoo authorities had pinned their hopes on Mirella after she was successfully paired with Nkosi, one of the four male chimpanzees at the zoo. The last time the zoo had succeeded in breeding chimpanzees was in 1984.

According to Dr Suresh Kumar, chief veterinarian at the zoo, who confirmed that Mirella was paired with Nkosi, dismissed reports that Mirella was pregnant when she died. “We had paired Mirella with Nkosi about a month ago and there were indications that the two chimps had mated. However, pregnancy was not confirmed,” he said.

The zoo had sought the advice of primatologist Hilda Tresz from the Phoenix Zoo in 2013, when efforts to pair Mirella and Mason – who were brought from a Sweden zoo in 1994 – did not bear fruit.

However, the arrival of two male chimpanzees from a Singapore Zoo, Kimoni and Nkosi, raised the hopes of the zoo authorities to breed the primates again. Zoo sources said Mirella and Nkosi were successfully paired after much deliberation.

Even though there was another female chimp, Ganga, at the zoo, the age of the chimpanzee was too advanced to bear offsprings, the zoo sources said.

After three decades since the last breeding, the zoo authorities now wait for a female chimpanzee, which is yet to arrive through an animal exchange programme from the Singapore zoo.