Detroit Zoo’s Newest Star Gives Visitors Reason to Ooh-Ooh and Ahh-Ahh

Tom Roy / Detroit Zoo

Tom Roy / Detroit Zoo

ROYAL OAK, Mich. – Zuhura – Swahili for “morning star” – is the stellar name given to a female chimpanzee born in the early morning hours of August 10, 2013, at the Detroit Zoo’s Great Apes of Harambee.

Zuhura is the first baby born to mother, Chiana, 19, and the third in five years for father, Imara, 18, who also sired female Akira, 2, and male Ajua, 4, with 26-year-old Akati. The baby also represents the Detroit Zoo’s inaugural second-generation chimpanzee birth; mom Chiana was born at the Zoo in 1994 to Abby, who is now 30.

“It’s exciting to have three generations of chimps represented here,” said Detroit Zoological Society Curator of Mammals Robert Lessnau. “Chiana is proving to be a great first-time mom.”

Zuhura can be seen clinging to Chiana as she carries her around the Great Apes of Harambee. Visitors can spot them climbing trees outdoors on sunny days and hanging out in the habitat’s spacious indoor dayrooms during inclement weather.

The Great Apes of Harambee is a 4-acre indoor-outdoor habitat that houses chimpanzees, western lowland gorillas and drills. The primates spend their days foraging, grooming and playing, just as they would in their native African environment.

Zuhura’s birth is the result of a recommendation from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan, a cooperative population management and conservation program for endangered and threatened species. There are 255 chimpanzees in AZA-accredited zoos in the United States, and Zuhura is one of only four chimps born this year.

The Detroit Zoological Society is a nonprofit organization that operates the Detroit Zoo and Belle Isle Nature Zoo. Situated on 125 acres of naturalistic habitats, the Detroit Zoo is located at the intersection of 10 Mile Road and Woodward Avenue, just off I-696, in Royal Oak, Mich. The Detroit Zoo is open 362 days a year, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April through Labor Day, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. the day after Labor Day through October and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. November through March. Admission is $14 for adults 15 to 61, $12 for senior citizens 62 and older, and $9 for children 2 to 14 (children under 2 are free). The Belle Isle Nature Zoo is open Wednesday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April through October and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. November through March; closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Admission is free. For more information, call (248) 541-5717 or visit www.detroitzoo.org.

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The Woodward Spine was the brainchild of Michael Fossano and Jeffrey Buck, two Royal Oak, Mich. natives who met nearly 10 years ago while attending the now-defunct George A. Dondero High School. It seemed fitting for the two Wayne State University alums to craft an outlet to help continually refine their writing skills, while also serving as a trusted source of information for the metro Detroit community. The Woodward Spine aims to inform its readers about relevant news and events through creative and informative posts not only by Mike and Jeff, but other upstanding citizens as well who are driven and proficient in these core areas: news, opinion, entertainment, history, sports and development. The Woodward Spine serves the tri-county metro Detroit area, however concentrating mainly on the communities that lie along the Woodward corridor.
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