Jumoke, an 8-week-old chimpanzee born at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, was found dead in his mother's arms this week. An initial examination found no obvious cause for the infant's death, zoo officials said.
"Unfortunately, it's not a terribly uncommon thing in the first year of life for animals in the wild or in captivity," said zoo spokesman Ben Gross.
Gross said keepers of the zoo's chimpanzee troupe had just brought the animals in from the indoor public exhibit area after 4 p.m. Wednesday when they noticed "something wasn't quite right."
"His mother, Joice, brought him close to the front of the bars, and they noticed he [Jumoke] wasn't clinging to her anymore, and wasn't suckling," he said.
The body of the chimp was sent for a necropsy at the Department of Comparative Medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. The initial exam found "no signs of trauma ... no breaks, contusions or bites," Gross said.
Jumoke was the first chimp born to the troupe since 1995. That newborn, named Raven, thrived, and remains at the zoo, Gross said.
The breeding program got a boost in October 2003 when two male chimps, Charley and Joe, arrived from the Detroit Zoo. Joe, 31, and Joice apparently hit it off, and Jumoke was born Oct. 20.
"The whole staff was just so encouraged by how Joice did; she is a proven mother," Gross said. "We're very interested in pursuing this again."
Across town, the National Aquarium in Baltimore reported yesterday that Bob, a 26-year- old Atlantic bottlenose dolphin that fell ill with multiple infections in September, was eating more.
Aquarium spokeswoman Jennifer Fiegl said, "Bob's food has been increased to 20 pounds daily. He is still receiving two nebulizer treatments and oral and injectable medications daily. His condition is still guarded."