JGI Welcomes New Baby at Gombe National Park

Monday, November 5, 2012 - 11:19pm

On the morning of October 8, 2012, Gombe field assistants saw Tanga with a new baby.  They tried to alert others researchers in the field who were closer to Tanga, but before any of them could get a good look at the newborn, Sparrow tried to take Tanga’s infant with help from Sheldon, Sparrow’s son.  Tanga screamed and Faustino ran to help her, displaying in such a fashion that Sparrow and Sheldon scattered.

Tanga then climbed down from the trees and traveled toward a group of chimpanzees.  Sparrow used the opportunity to try and take Tanga’s infant yet again.  This time, Titan, Fudge and Frodo were there to help Tanga.  Sheldon screamed and left while Sparrow and Tanga stayed with the group.
Later, when the rest of the group left, Nasa and Zeus joined Tanga.  When Nasa showed an interest in the baby, Tanga screamed and bit Nasa’s back, which prompted Nasa to leave.  Tanga and Zeus stayed together for awhile before heading on their way.  On encountering a group, Tanga followed Titan and they both climbed up a tree and began grooming.  They groomed a short time and then climbed down and went to the Busambo Valley to feed.  After they finished feeding, they followed a group and joined them at the Kidihi Valley.  This time, none of the chimpanzees in the group showed an interest in Tanga’s baby.  
This series of events is particularly noteworthy given Sheldon’s support of his mother, Sparrow.  Sheldon spent quite bit of time consorting with Tanga and could, therefore, be the baby’s father.  If this is true, one would think Sheldon would do more to protect the newborn.  Perhaps paternity studies will shed some light on Sheldon’s behavior.

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