A critically endangered chimpanzee born at Chester Zoo offers hope for a new species

A critically endangered chimpanzee born at Chester Zoo offers hope for a new species

A critically endangered chimpanzee born at Chester Zoo offers hope for a new species

The critically endangered western chimpanzee was born at Chester Zoo.

The male chimpanzee is healthy and spends the first weeks of his life bonding with his mother ZeeZee and other members of the zoo’s 22-member herd.

He will be named after a rock or pop star, like three other chimpanzees previously born at the zoo – Dylan (Bob), Alice (Cooper) and Annie (Lennox).

“We are incredibly proud to see a precious new baby in the chimpanzee herd. Mom ZeeZee and her new addition bonded immediately and she did a great job of keeping him close and caring for him,” said Andrew Lenihan, Head of the Primate Dissection Team at Chester Zoo.

“Birth always evokes a lot of excitement in the group, and raising a child quickly becomes a real family affair.

“You’ll often see a new baby being handed over to other women who want to lend a helping hand and give ZeeZee a well-deserved rest, and that’s what her daughter, Stevie, is doing with her new brother. It looks like she’s taken on a real shine for him, which is great to see.”

Western chimpanzees are a medium-sized subspecies of the common chimpanzee. They grow up to about a meter in length from head to rump and weigh up to 45 kg. They can live over 40 years and are distinguished by unusual behavior. These include the use of spears to hunt and catch prey, and the odd habit of throwing large stones at trees or hollow tree trunks.

They are the first chimpanzee subspecies recognized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as critically endangered. From Senegal to Ghana in West Africa, there are estimated to be only 18,000 individuals, with previous populations in Benin, Burkina Faso and Togo extinct due to habitat loss.

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“In the last 25 years alone, the world has lost 80 percent of its western chimpanzee population, so the arrival of a healthy baby in Chester gives us real hope that we can help turn the tide for the species,” said Mike Jordan, director of animals and plants at Chester Zoo.

“We are in the midst of a global extinction crisis. The UN estimates that a million species could become extinct in our lifetime. But as the world’s leading conservation zoo, we are doing everything we can to stop and reverse it.

“Our teams have been on site in Uganda, Nigeria and Gabon helping to protect wild chimpanzee populations and their forest homes. This work, combined with the zoo’s endangered species breeding program, will help play a key role in saving this species from extinction forever.”

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