• Kyodo

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The male offspring of a chimpanzee that has memorized a huge amount of numbers and letters is now 6 months old, and researchers are continuing studies to see whether he has inherited his mother’s unique skills.

According to staffers at the Primate Research Institute of Kyoto University in Inuyama, Aichi Prefecture, Ayumu, the child of chimp prodigy Ai, 24, has been doing well since his birth on April 24.

In recent weeks, he has been picking up and eating his mother’s leftover fruit during mealtimes, they said. He is in good health save a minor injury to his back suffered about two weeks ago when his mother got into a fight with another chimp, they said.

Since 1995, the institute has been studying whether chimpanzees pass on traits to their offspring. Ayumu was born through artificial insemination, and his birth was the first among the institute’s primates in 16 years.

His birth was later followed by that of two other chimps — in June and August. Their mothers have also been “taught” at the institute.

Tetsuro Matsuzawa, a professor at the institute, said he hopes to continue studies on how the three baby chimps interact with their parents.

Ai has been taught several hundred numbers and kanji characters since she came to the institute at the age of 1. She can even arrange some of the numbers in short sequences.

Although there had been concern that Ai would reject the baby since, unlike her counterparts in the wild, she had no opportunity to see others raise their young, such fears seem to have been unfounded.

Ai, whose first attempt to give birth in 1998 ended in a stillbirth, was given a stuffed toy to hold and was shown videos of wild chimpanzees prior to giving birth to Ayumu.

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