They weren’t sure if he would make it. But Kuchez, which means “Play” in Swahili, survived.
Now the folks at Sedwick County Zoo (SCA) in Wichita, Kansas, are calling it a miracle.
It was touch and go the first few days after Kuchez was born. But thanks to the dedicated staff, the newborn chimpanzee is doing just fine.
Zookeeper Devin Turner observed Mahale in labor in the morning. He sat with her as her labor progressed.
Complications began when Mahale’s labor stalled.
It was determined that she would have to have an emergency C-section. Turner was the first to get to hold Kuchez after he was born.
The newborn was having trouble breathing which required the zookeepers’ around-the-clock care.
They stayed with Kucheza overnight to administer that care.
Things went well, and eventually, they were sure she would pull through. They gave Kucheza oxygen treatments and bottle feedings. Once Kucheza was stabilized, Mahale was finally able to spend some quality time with her baby.
“So, on Tuesday, the fact that we were able to have a live baby and to watch Mahale on Thursday show that joy. That is why we do what we do.”
The last chimp pregnancy at the zoo resulted in a stillbirth in 2019.
Mahale had spent about two days apart from her baby. The zoo took a video of it when she was finally brought to her baby.
The video shows mom being led into an enclosure while carrying her blanket with her.
She looks over at a soft cushion with a bundle lying in the middle of it but doesn’t react to it.
As soon as she sees the baby move and raises her hand, she rushes over to the baby and immediately scoops her up into her arms.
You can see her whimpering while holding the baby close to her and caressing her.
You can feel the emotion of this video. Poor mom probably didn’t even know what happened to her child.
The last time she saw the baby, he couldn’t breath well on his own, and then it was taken away from her.
This was the 28-year-old chimpanzee’s third baby.
The video was viewed more than 16 million times and had people in tears.
“Oh my goodness!! Sobbing!! The way she sees that little hand and rushes to hold her baby!! So beautiful!! Thank you for sharing,” said one commenter.
“OMG!! I am sitting here up at my desk in tears!!! My heart just melted,” said another.
Veterinarians and the zoo’s staff were credited with saving the newborn’s life.
“Drs. Laura Whisler and Janna Chibry of College Hill OB-GYN were on hand to perform the cesarean section with the zoo’s veterinary team,” the zoo said. “The pair have consulted with Sedgwick County Zoo veterinarians on all great ape pregnancies for the past decade — most recently delivering Sumatran Orangutan, Lily, via Csection in 2018.”