18 January 2007

Frisky Chimps

Sometimes the best reads in the Times are the little AP stories that run under the heading “National Briefing”. By best, I mean the kind that cry out to be read aloud or otherwise shared. Here’s one from today:

Who’s Your Daddy?
Published: January 18, 2007

A female chimpanzee at a sanctuary has given birth, despite the fact that the facility’s entire male chimp population has had vasectomies. Now managers at the sanctuary, Chimp Haven, are planning a paternity test for the seven males who lived in a group with the female, Teresa, a chimpanzee in her late 40s who had a baby girl last week. Once they identify the father, it is back to the operating room for him...
This begged a few questions for me. Did anyone know she was pregnant? Do chimps have the same propensity towards genetic abnormalities in the babies born to older moms that humans do? Did she have any prenatal testing (amnio, CVS) given that she's of advanced maternal age? Or is that not advanced maternal age for a chimp? And if they did do genetic testing, and did find an abnormality (is there a chimp equivalent of a trisomy?), would they have done anything about it? The mind reels.