World's RAREST chimpanzee is born at Chester Zoo

Ape-solutely amazing! World’s RAREST chimpanzee is born at Chester Zoo – giving fresh hope for the critically endangered species

  • A western chimpanzee baby was born at Chester Zoo on December 9 
  • Western chimpanzees are criticially endangered with only 50,000 remaining
  • Conservationists hope the birth will give fresh hope for the species 

Chester Zoo has welcomed its newest arrival – a western chimpanzee baby.

In a boost for conservation efforts, he was born on December 9 after an eight-month pregnancy.

Andrew Lenihan, team manager at the attraction, said: ‘We’re incredibly proud to see a precious new baby in the chimpanzee troop. 

‘Mum ZeeZee and her new arrival instantly bonded and she’s doing a great job of cradling him closely and caring for him.’

Chester Zoo has welcomed its newest arrival – a western chimpanzee baby. ZeeZee – a highly-endangered Western chimpanzee – is pictured cradling her newest baby boy

Andrew Lenihan, team manager at the attraction, said: ‘We’re incredibly proud to see a precious new baby in the chimpanzee troop. ‘Mum ZeeZee and her new arrival instantly bonded and she’s doing a great job of cradling him closely and caring for him’

The western chimpanzee is at imminent threat of extinction unless drastic action is taken. 

Only about 50,000 western chimpanzees remain – over an 80 per cent decline in the last decades. 

The geographic range of western chimpanzees spans eight West African countries and a diverse array of habitats, from the tropical humid forests along the coast to the montane regions of Nimba and Lofa, north to the undulating highlands of the Fouta-Djallon, and the savanna mosaic that touches the Sudano Sahel. 

Humans and chimpanzees have coexisted in this region for thousands of years. 

While the human population has exploded in size in recent years, the chimpanzee population has declined. 

Source: Western Chimp 

The zoo has released images of ZeeZee cradling her infant. 

Great ape experts say the new arrival is in good health and spent his first few weeks bonding with his mother and the rest of the zoo’s 22 western chimps.

Chimpanzees are born with a white tuft of hair on their rear and have it until puberty to signal others in the troop to be gentle with them.

‘A birth always creates a lot of excitement in the group and raising a youngster soon becomes a real extended family affair,’ Mr Lenihan said.

‘You’ll often see the new baby being passed between other females who want to lend a helping hand and give ZeeZee some well-deserved rest, and that’s exactly what her daughter, Stevie, is doing with her new brother.

‘It looks as though she’s taken a real shine to him, which is great to see.’

The new chimp has not yet been named but it is a long-standing tradition among conservationists to name newborns after a music icon to help boost the species’ profile.

‘It’s been a tradition of ours for decades now to name baby chimpanzees after famous rock and pop stars in a bid to help raise some urgent attention for this charismatic species,’ Mr Lenihan said.

‘We’ve previously welcomed Dylan (Bob), Alice (Cooper) and Annie (Lennox) – so watch this space.’

Western chimpanzees are the first chimpanzee subspecies to join the list of critically endangered apes from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Older sister, Stevie (Nicks), gives mum Zee Zee a helping hand with her new baby boy

Western chimpanzees are the first chimpanzee subspecies to join the list of critically endangered apes from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature

There are as few as 18,000 western chimpanzees left in Africa, it is estimated.

Chester Zoo hopes the latest birth will help ensure the species’ long-term survival.

Mr Lenihan said: ‘He may not know it but ZeeZee’s new baby is a small but vital boost to the global population of western chimpanzees at a time when it’s most needed for this critically endangered species.’

The fall in western chimp numbers has been attributed to manmade causes – hunting for illegal bush meat, human-spread diseases and extensive habitat loss and destruction across western Africa.

Mike Jordan, the zoo’s animal and plant director, said: ‘In the last 25 years alone the world has lost 80 per cent of its western chimpanzee population, so the arrival of a healthy baby here at Chester offers us real hope that we can help turn things around for this species.’

Older sister, Stevie (Nicks), is seen carrying the new baby around. Young chimps are born with a white tuft of hair on their rear, a signal for other chimpanzees in the troop to be gentle with them.

Western chimpanzees are extinct in countries like Benin, Burkina Faso and Togo. However, small populations are found in the likes of Senegal and Ghana

Western chimpanzees are extinct in countries like Benin, Burkina Faso and Togo.

However, small populations are found in the likes of Senegal and Ghana.

‘We’re in the midst of a global extinction crisis,’ Mr Jordan said.

‘The UN estimates that one million species could be wiped out in our lifetime. But, as a world-leading conservation zoo, we’re doing everything we possibly can to halt and reverse this.

‘Our teams have worked on the ground in Uganda, Nigeria and Gabon to help protect wild chimpanzee populations and their forest homes.

The new chimp has not yet been named but it is a long-standing tradition among conservationists to name newborns after a music icon to help boost the species’ profile

‘This work, paired with the endangered species breeding programme in conservation zoos, will help play a key role in protecting this species from being lost forever.’

Chester Zoo is a world-leading conservation and education charity.

It has been actively involved in the conservation of some of the world’s rarest chimpanzees in Africa, such as supporting efforts to protect the last stronghold of the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee in Gashaka Gumti National park in Nigeria, for over 20 years.

The zoo’s 128-acre site in Chester is home to more than 27,000 animals and 500 species.

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WHICH ARE SMARTER: CHIMPS OR CHILDREN?

Most children surpass the intelligence levels of chimpanzees before they reach four years old.

A study conducted by Australian researchers in June 2017 tested children for foresight, which is said to distinguish humans from animals.

The experiment saw researchers drop a grape through the top of a vertical plastic Y-tube.

They then monitored the reactions of a child and chimpanzee in their efforts to grab the grape at the other end, before it hit the floor.

Because there were two possible ways the grape could exit the pipe, researchers looked at the strategies the children and chimpanzees used to predict where the grape would go.

The apes and the two-year-olds only covered a single hole with their hands when tested.

But by four years of age, the children had developed to a level where they knew how to forecast the outcome.

They covered the holes with both hands, catching whatever was dropped through every time.

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