Extremely rare – and extremely adorable.
Chester Zoo in Cheshire, England, welcomed the birth of a western chimpanzee, the most endangered chimpanzee subspecies.
The zoo announced the baby boy’s birth in a press release on Thursday. The little one, born to mother ZeeZee, will join a troop of 22 western chimpanzees at the British zoo.
“We are incredibly proud to see a precious new baby in the chimpanzee troop,” Andrew Lenihan, team leader for the zoo’s primate section, said in the statement. “Mom ZeeZee and her new arrival bonded instantly and she did a great job cradling him tightly and taking care of him.”
Lenihan said the baby was already quickly accepted by her extended family.
“A birth always creates a lot of excitement in the group and raising a youngster quickly becomes a true extended family affair,” Lenihan continued. “You’ll often see the new baby passed between other women who want to lend a hand and give ZeeZee some much-needed rest, and that’s exactly what her daughter, Stevie, is doing with her new sibling. It looks like she really shone with him, which is great to see.
Moreover, the little baby is an essential asset for the critically endangered population.
“He may not know it, but ZeeZee’s new baby is a small but vital boost to the world’s western chimpanzee population, at a time when this critically endangered species needs it most.” , added Lenihan.
Following a decades-old tradition, the newborn at Chester Zoo will be named after a famous rock star, according to the press release.
The western chimpanzee is the only chimpanzee subspecies listed as “critically endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which says it faces “an extremely high risk of extinction in wild state”. The species has disappeared in Benin, Burkina Faso and Togo, but still lives in parts of West Africa, with the largest population remaining in Guinea.
The subspecies has faced an 80% population decline in the past 25 years, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Monkey numbers have plummeted due to habitat destruction, poaching and disease.