Endangered chimpanzee born at zoo
An endangered chimpanzee has been born in front of surprised visitors at Chester Zoo.
The baby primate was born to mother Alice, a West African chimpanzee, at about 5pm on Saturday as zoo guests watched.
Zoo bosses say the newborn, a female which is yet to be named, is in good health and spending time bonding with the 21-strong troop.
Taking to social media after witnessing the birth, one visitor described the event as “one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen”, while another said it was “pretty epic”.
The new arrival has been described as a “vital boost” to the conservation breeding programme for the critically endangered species.
It is estimated that as few as 18,000 West African chimpanzees remain in the wild and it is the first subspecies of chimpanzee to be added to the list of critically endangered apes.
Mike Jordan, collections director at the zoo, said: “This new baby is a significant addition to this multi-generational chimpanzee group at the zoo – and a vital boost to the conservation breeding programme for the critically endangered species.
“Alice and her daughter have bonded well and she’s doing a wonderful job of caring for her so far.
“A new baby always creates lots of excitement and Alice has plenty of support from some of the other experienced mums in the group, who are all keen to lend a helping hand.”
Mr Jordan said the youngster provided “cause for celebration” because of the plight of chimpanzees in Africa.
He added: “More chimpanzees are hunted for the illegal bush meat trade than are born each year, causing populations to plummet in the wild.
“Couple that with the fact that humans are destroying their habitats and it’s easy to see why these fantastic animals – one of our closest cousins – are being pushed towards extinction.
“This new arrival is a step towards changing the fortunes for the species.”
Conservationists at the zoo have been working in Africa to protect some of the world’s rarest chimpanzee species for more than 20 years.