Chimp Drama: Who's the Daddy?

ByABC News via logo

Jan. 18, 2007 — -- A chimp drama worthy of Jerry Springer has humans scratching their heads.

There's a new baby chimp at the Chimp Haven sanctuary in Louisiana, even though managers thought the facility's entire male chimp population was sterile. The monkey business has set off a flurry of paternity tests, with everyone asking the same question: Who's the daddy?

Teresa, a chimp in her 40s, shocked everyone last week by giving birth to a baby girl.

"We were all just a little bit surprised when we heard the news," said Linda Brent, president of Chimp Haven.

Why such a surprise? Births at Chimp Haven, which is the country's first federally funded retirement home for chimpanzees, are not supposed to happen. All of the male chimps are given vasectomies when they arrive.

In humans, vasectomies fail less than four out of 1,000 times. ABC News couldn't find any research on the success rate of chimp vasectomies, but it is safe to say that there has been at least one recent failure.

Determining the father of Teresa's baby isn't easy. She lives with 17 chimps in a five-acre forest. There are seven males in the group, but only three seem to like the ladies: Magnum, Conan -- known to be a flirt -- and Jimmo, who not only likes the ladies, but seems to like everything.

"He's everybody's favorite in terms of being the dad," Brent said of Jimmo. "And he likes Teresa quite a bit."

The staff at Chimp Haven plans to do paternity tests on all the males.

"We can pick up hair samples off of the floor, or sometimes the chimps will actually pull one off and give you a couple of hairs," Brent explained.

Regardless of the daddy's identity, the future for Teresa and her daughter, Tracy, looks bright. The baby chimp will get to live out her life at Chimp Haven thanks to donor Bill Robinson, the co-founder of DHL, who will pay the $5,000 a year needed for care.

So everyone will live happily ever after -- save the one chimp who'll be getting a new operation when the paternity tests come back in a few weeks.

Learn more about Chimp Haven at chimphaven.org.

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