ASHEBORO NC - A baby chimp born Monday at the North Carolina Zoo is healthy but remains under careful watch by keepers as they try to determine whether the mother will properly care for the infant.

The baby chimp, named "Noki" by keepers on Tuesday, was removed briefly from her 16-year-old mother, Maki, late Monday and again Tuesday afternoon for evaluation by keepers and veterinarians. The infant's weight on Tuesday was just over three pounds.

According to Zoo Curator of Mammals Terry Webb, the baby chimp seems in good condition, although somewhat undernourished. The staff has not been happy with the way Maki, a first-time mother, has held the baby, many times upside down. But while Maki is not exhibiting all the mothering skills the staff had hoped, she is showing interest and affection for the baby.

Webb said the staff will continue to monitor both the baby and mother until it is determined whether Maki can learn how to hold and nurse the infant. The pair will be evaluated again Wednesday as keepers hope to avoid hand-rearing Noki.

Although several chimps have been hand-reared by the N.C. Zoo in the past, Webb emphasized that the mother will be given every opportunity to prove her maternal abilities-an option better for both the baby and zoo keepers.

The zoo is an agency of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Dee A. Freeman, Secretary; Beverly E. Perdue, Governor.