Grand birthday bash planned for Delhi zoo's oldest inmate
For the first time in 56 years, Rita is getting a grand party for her birthday, one that promises to be quite unlike any other celebration.
For a start, no one knows exactly when she was born.
All that is known of the origins of the Delhi zoo's oldest inmate – and its only chimpanzee – is that she came to the national capital from the distant shores of Amsterdam in 1964.
The chimp may no longer be the crowd-puller she once was due to her advancing age, but her long association with the zoo and "human-like" characteristics have endeared her to many.
"As its oldest inmate, she is a crucial part of the park.
She shows many human instincts. For instance, she wants to interact with her visitors, but old age forces her to stay back," Raja Ram Singh, Joint Director, National Zoological Park, said.
It will be more than just a birthday celebration, the official said, while promising an "emotional and informative" experience for visitors.
"Rita may not be a crowd puller now due to her advancing age, but we are proud of her association with the zoo," Singh said.
Rita is the last of her kind in the zoo. Her mate Max was given to the Jaipur zoo as part of an exchange programme.
A couple of years before that she gave birth to three young ones. None survived.
Singh said the chimpanzee's dietary intake has been reduced due to her age. However, "she is not suffering from any ailment."
Talking about the grand birthday bash planned sometime later this year, the official said the objective is to make people aware of wildlife conservation. Manoj, a biological assistant at the zoo, said the chimpanzee was born in captivity and brought here on December 15, 1964.