The keepers of Japanese zoos finally know how Momo, living alone, has children
Japanese zookeepers believe they have solved the mystery of how an ape became pregnant despite living alone in a cage.
Momo, a 12-year-old ape, shocked her caretakers at the Kujukushima Zoo and Botanical Garden in Nagasaki in February 2021 when she gave birth without a male companion.
Now, two years later, after testing her baby’s DNA, the zoo has figured out who the child’s father is – and has even theorized about how apes mate.
Examination revealed that the father, Itō, a 34-year-old agile ape, was in a cage adjacent to Momo around the time of her pregnancy.
The zoo told CNN on Friday that it believes Momo and Itō managed to mate through a small hole in the steel sheet between their enclosures. The hole is about 9 millimeters (0.3 inches) in diameter.
The baby lemur – which has yet to be named – now weighs about 2 kg (4.4 pounds) and is “growing up healthy” under Momo’s loving care, the zoo said.
“It’s a precious creature born into the world, we will continue to take good care of it and hope it will live a long healthy life,” said Hideki Hisano, deputy director of the zoo.
Gibbons are one of the smallest apes, but they have a loud voice that has evolved into a complex language and can swings from branch to branch at speeds up to 35 miles per hour.
There are dozens of species of apes native to parts of Asia, from northeastern India to China and all the way to the Borneo Islands.
The population of agile apes in the wild is decreasing and they are listed endangered species in the International Union for Conservation of Nature, as their habitat is threatened by human activities such as deforestation, mining and road construction.