It’s a storyline tailor-made for Jerry Springer, Maury Povich or even an episode of “The Bachelor.” Except this “who’s your daddy” mystery involves an unlikely quintet of five very hairy, four-legged suitors.
It all began, appropriately enough, Valentine’s Day when Flora, a 29-year-old female chimp at the Chimp Haven National Chimpanzee Sanctuary just south of Shreveport, La., unexpectedly gave birth to a healthy female chimp.
That was cause enough for celebration except that Chimp Haven, a community for chimpanzees who have retired from medical research, the entertainment industry, or are no longer wanted as pets, requires that all males who go there to live out their golden years have vasectomies so that the community remains a retirement community, according to their website.
Evidently, however, there was some monkeying around.
“We do not know who the father is,” Chimp Haven president Dr. Linda Brent says in a statement posted on the website. “We will be conducting DNA analysis as quickly as possible so that we can determine the father of the newborn and address his failed vasectomy.”
Staff at the Haven say they’ve narrowed the search down to five possibilities, Conan, Jimoh, Magnum, Mason and Merv.
They’re also working overtime to discover how the baby came to be since the same exact thing happened five years ago. The result of that pregnancy surprise is Tracy, now a five-year-old chimp who lives in the same social group as new mom Flora.
Adding to the mystery is that Conan, one of the chimps in the mix of possible dads, is the father of Tracy, and he underwent a second vasectomy after her surprise birth five years ago. Another of the five possibilities, Mason, died last month, meaning he could become a father beyond the grave.
“We take our responsibility to prevent pregnancies very seriously, but sometimes life finds a way,” the statement from Brent reads.
In addition to solving the “who’s your daddy” mystery, Chimp Haven is also in search of a way to support the new, still unnamed addition because it costs about $12,000 per year to maintain and house a chimp, and chimps can live for as long as 50 years.
To solve that mystery, the sanctuary says it will give naming rights to any donor who steps forward to pledge a lifetime of support – a $12,000 per year donation – to the new baby.
“Whoever ‘adopts’ this baby will be like a grandparent who can have wonderful visits with the family and leave the feeding, child rearing, and discipline up to Flora and the Chimp Haven care staff,” Brent says.
Until a donor steps forward, and for the benefit of those who want to play along from home, the naming rights will also be open to the general public for the next month through an online poll on the sanctuary’s website.
When the month is up, Chimp Haven will reveal both the baby’s name and, fingers crossed, the baby’s father.