, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 545-549

First online:

An observed birth in a free-living chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) in Gombe National Park, Tanzania

  • Jane GoodallAffiliated with
  • , Jumanne AthumaniAffiliated with

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During 19 years of study of chimpanzees in the Gombe National Park only one birth has been observed; this is probably the first such observation for any chimpanzee in the natural habitat. The birth took place in a nest in a tall tree during the morning. Details were recorded by Tanzanian field staff from a neighbouring tree. Labour and parturition are described as well as the mother’s care of the infant immediately after birth. The mother consumed the placenta as she lay in another nest. Throughout the birth process the mother’s juvenile son remained close by and watched with apparent interest. Another mother and her offspring were present during the birth and an adult male approached the mother while she was feeding on the placenta. Their behaviour is described.