Curiosities - Information
Sofia is back with her mother
Twenty months ago I had to hurry to Sorocaba Sanctuary in the end of the night because the first baby of Guga and Samantha had been born. We raise these chimpanzees since they were less than one year old and, now adults, they produced their first baby. But the drama that began 20 months ago ended last Friday, February 25.
Samantha did not take the baby, who we called Sofia, after she was born. The baby was kept wrapped with blankets and sheets on the floor. I entered in the enclosure every time she cried and the baby still had the umbilical cord and the placenta hang in her body. And Samantha was getting the “package”and taking it to every corner of the room.
My intention was not to interfere and she did not let me take the baby. She also did not get the baby and put her near the breasts, which is what chimpanzees’ mothers do to stimulate the production of milk.
Everyone in the sanctuary paralyzed with the drama faced. After 10 hours, the baby was still on the floor, wrapped, with the risk of drowning and we were in doubt about what it would be right to do. At 3 pm we decided to take out the baby, who was crying less. We managed to deceive Samantha and took Sofia. She cried, but never was sorrow with our attitude.
The team of the sanctuary took care of Sofia and she grew up strong, smart and featured TV shows filmed in the sanctuary. During these 20 months we took her several times near the enclosure so she could see her mother and father. Samantha wanted the baby but it would not be appropriated to give her, because she was depending on us to be fed and Samantha would not be able to do it.
We built a new enclosure, with a big air tunnel, aiming to make their integration easier, in a new environment, controlled and near the original group of Guga. By the way, he is following all this process very anxiously.
Last Friday, February, 25, was the “D” day. I took Sofia in her enclosure and drove her to the new home, where her mother, Samantha, was waiting for her, maybe feeling what was about to happen.
Although a TV team was filming the reintroduction, in the first moments only me and the cameraman of the sanctuary were together with them, aiming not to interfere and impact the less possible, mainly in the mother`s reaction. Firstly I entered alone with Samantha, let her do me grooming and talked to her about Sofia, that she was being taken to her. A few minutes later I took Sofia and the first contact was through the fence. Then we hold our breath and prayed: Sofia entered in the enclosure where her mother was waiting for her. In the beginning Sofia was suspicious, as long as she had never been alone with an adult chimpanzee before. With patience and carefully as every mother, Samantha followed and looked for her. She wanted to put Sofia on her lap.
The search for intimacy took some hours. We let them alone and knew there was no danger anymore. They would understand each other. In the afternoon they were much closer. We deiced to let them sleep together. In the following day the integration was a reality. The hug between mother and daughter put an end on that painful process, for them and for us. Samantha is pregnant again and we hope Sofia helps her to take care of the new baby. Maybe Sofia will stimulate the mother to breastfeed her next son or daughter.
Now only the father is missing in the family and he is waiting for the moment he will be able to get together with them. Just some meters away, he sees the mother and the daughter living together as they had never been put separated. Samantha cannot be blamed for her action, because she is an orphan and had never witnessed maternity in her environment. Now she will be able to recognize her mistake and how pleasant it will be to take care of her babies.
Their hug, registered by our team, talks alone. There is no need of words!
Dr. Pedro A. Ynterian
President, GAP Project International