Photo: @sandiegozoo via Twitter
Earlier this week, the San Diego Zoo tweeted about a "wee surprise" they discovered the week prior. Eloise, the 37-year-old siamang (which is actually a type of arboreal gibbon, so technically she's an ape, not a monkey), had unexpectedly given birth to her seventh baby, despite being on birth control. The new arrival comes 12 years after her last offspring, which was in 2006.
According to The San Diego Tribune, Eloise had been put on hormonal birth control because she and her partner, 35-year-old Unkie, already had enough representation in the zoo's siamang gene pool. Siamang are social creatures who usually mate monogamously and need companionship to thrive, so separating her from her mate to stop them from having more babies would've had a negative impact on her social and mental wellbeing.
“We’re not certain why birth control didn’t work in this case, but as with humans, it is not uncommon for contraceptive failure to happen from time to time,” said Jill Andrews, who is the animal care manager at the zoo. “Still, we are overjoyed—because any birth of an endangered species is a reason to celebrate.”
We're not so sure Eloise is necessarily sharing in that joy. Check out the look on her face—a combination of wide-eyed sleep deprivation and shell-shock at finding herself plunged back into that postpartum life. Any mom who's ever felt trapped on the couch while nursing a cluster-feeding newborn for the fourth hour straight will recognize her "I'm so over this" look. (Also, we really feel for her poor nipples.)
In ape years, 37 is basically retirement age—siamangs in captivity only live to be about 40. Eloise is supposed to be enjoying the twilight stage of life: going to Aquafit, hitting up early-bird buffets and sharing photos from her latest Mediterranean cruise on Facebook. Not asking her friends to return all the baby stuff she purged from basement storage ten years ago.
All jokes aside, new babies are always an adorable blessing, whether they're planned or not. We're glad the pair is currently healthy and thriving.