Johannesburg - Nina was not brought up by her own mom. She never watched aunts or cousins hold their babies. And yet when her own son was born on Wednesday, she grabbed him, cuddled him and kissed him.
The Jane Goodall Chimp Eden sanctuary in Mpumalanga says that Nina is the first chimpanzee in the world ever to be filmed giving birth from beginning to end.
They said that for weeks, thousands kept watch on the internet, eagerly awaiting the special moment.
For Nina, the birth was quick – it was over in minutes.
“Her instincts immediately kicked in after giving birth and she cleaned the baby boy,” said David Oosthuizen, executive director at the Jane Goodall Institute.
The only signs that the birth was coming was that Nina was restless the night before.
Phillip Cronjé, sanctuary manager at Primate Care, an Mpumalanga organisation, said the birth was remarkable because at nine years Nina was so young. Chimps usually gave birth when fully grown, around 12 and 13 years of age.
She also set a world first with her thousands of followers. “She captured the hearts and souls of people the world over,” Cronjé said.
Jo Alistoun of Parkmore, Sandton, was an avid follower of the Nina Cam.
“I started watching last Tuesday after hearing about it on radio, and from then onI had it on all the time.
“At work I had it streaming on my iPad, when I got home and then I was waking in the night to see what she was doing,” Alistoun said yesterday.
“Last night I took my phone to a birthday dinner party and kept logging on to see what Nina was doing.
“She was restless and could not settle and I knew she was going to give birth.”
Alistoun woke at 2am to check her Nina Cam stream, and from then on kept checking regularly.
At 7.28am Nina finally gave birth smoothly and quickly.
“I saw it (the birth),”she exlaimed joyously.. I saw her bleeding and she was tucked away in the corner so nothing was clear. But next thing she had given birth. It was absolutely amazing. I had streaming on my iPhone as I drove to work, and the people at my office now think I’m nuts because nobody’s sharing in my enthusiasm,” Alistoun said.
“It’s awesome. Brilliant. I feel like I have just had a baby. I’m watching Nina make a little straw nest and curl up with her baby and her pink blanket. She has eaten an apple and all I can think is that now I am going to have to find something else to do.”
She said her eyes “looked like peas in the snow” in the morning “but it has been worth every minute”.
Nina has had a traumatic past, and her team were not sure she would accept the baby.
In 2007, she and four other infants, Thomas, Charlie, Dinka and Zee, were saved from bushmeat hunters in South Sudan and taken to a zoo.
From there they were taken to a Jane Goodall Institute in Sudan.
Finally they were moved to Chimp Eden rehabilitation facility, 15km from Mbombela. - The Star
* Observe the mother and child’s progress on http:// lite.wildearth.tv/chimp-eden-nina-cam, http:// www.ustream .tv/channel/chimp-eden-nina-birth-cam, or http://www.chimpeden.com