The Maryland Zoo is hosting virtual encounters with the newest member of its animal troop, Maisie, the chimpanzee. The visits, offered on Wednesday and Thursday at 11:30 a.m. over the next several weeks, will give adults and children opportunities to learn about the extraordinary measures that the Chimpanzee Forest Animal Care Team is taking to raise this baby chimp and their goals for introducing Maisie to a surrogate mother. Virtual tour participants can ask questions in real time about Maisie and the chimp troop, the care they receive and conservation efforts, as well as see Maisie in action.
Maisie arrived at the Zoo in late September. The Chimp Forest Animal Care team is working in three shifts 24 hours a day to provide her constant care.
“Taking care of Maisie is more time intensive than raising a human baby. A chimp mom carries her baby everywhere, which is why we wear a shirt or blanket that has fringe material sewn on so Maisie has to grip and stay attached to us,” says Erin Grimm, mammal collection and conservation manager. “Chimps learn everything they need to know from the troop, so our team has to teach her how to be a little chimp until she is with her surrogate mom Abby, a proven surrogate mother who has helped raise several other baby chimps.”
The zoo is home to 15 chimpanzees, including 17-month-old Lola and almost 1-year-old Violet. “Once Maisie is integrated into the troop, she will have two companions to play with, which is also essential to her development,” continues Grimm. “We are happy to open up these Virtual Maisie Encounters so that people can learn what we are doing to help this little one become a solid part of the troop.”
The Virtual Maisie Encounter costs $39 per device for nonmembers and $29 for members. All proceeds go directly to support animal care. For more information, visit marylandzoo.org/babychimpencounter.