In todays awesome news: Chester Zoo announced the arrival of a western chimpanzee baby. The birth of the baby chimpanzee is a boost for conservation efforts as western chimpanzees are critically endangered.
Andrew Lenihan, team manager at the zoo, said that the zoo is incredibly proud of the new arrival and that the baby’s mother, ZeeZee, has instantly bonded with the baby and is taking good care of it.
Newborn Chimpanzee’s Health and Development
The zoo has released images of ZeeZee cradling her newborn infant.
Great ape experts have reported that 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 chimpanzees.
Chimpanzees are born with a white tuft of hair on their rear which signals to others in the troop to be gentle with them until puberty.
Raising the Newborn Chimpanzee: An Extended Family Affair
According to Mr. Lenihan, the birth of a new chimpanzee creates a lot of excitement in the group and the raising of a youngster becomes a real extended family affair.
The new baby is often passed around among other females who want to lend a helping hand to the mother and give her some well-deserved rest. He also mentioned that the new baby’s sister Stevie has taken a real shine to him which is great to see.
Naming Tradition of the New Chimpanzee
The new chimpanzee 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.
The zoo has previously named baby chimpanzees after famous rock and pop stars like Dylan (Bob), Alice (Cooper), and Annie (Lennox) as a way to raise awareness for this charismatic species.
Western Chimpanzees: Critically Endangered
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 an estimated 18,000 western chimpanzees left in Africa. Chester Zoo hopes that the latest birth will help ensure the species’ long-term survival. According to Mr. Lenihan, the 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.
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Cause of the Fall in Western Chimpanzee Numbers
The fall in western chimpanzee numbers has been attributed to man-made causes such as hunting for illegal bushmeat, human-spread diseases, and extensive habitat loss and destruction across western Africa.
According to Mike Jordan, the zoo’s animal and plant director, the world has lost 80% of its western chimpanzee population in the last 25 years alone, and the arrival of a healthy baby at Chester Zoo offers real hope to turn things around for this species.
Western Chimpanzees: Extinction in Some Countries
Western chimpanzees are extinct in countries like Benin, Burkina Faso, and Togo. However, small populations are still found in countries like Senegal and Ghana. According to Mr. Jordan, we are in the midst of a global extinction crisis and the UN estimates that one million species could be wiped out in our lifetime.
Chester Zoo, being a world-leading conservation and education charity, is doing everything it can to halt and reverse this trend.
The teams at the zoo have worked on the ground in Uganda, Nigeria, and Gabon to help protect wild chimpanzee populations and their forest homes.
Endangered Species Breeding Program and Conservation Efforts
Chester Zoo’s endangered species breeding program in conservation zoos, paired with the work of the teams on the ground, will play a key role in protecting the species from being lost forever. The zoo has been actively involved in the conservation of some of the world’s rarest chimpanzees in Africa for over 20 years, such as supporting efforts to protect the last stronghold of the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee in Gashaka Gumti National park in Nigeria. The zoo’s 128-acre site in Chester is home to more than 27,000 animals and 500 species.
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