A critically endangered Western chimpanzee is the latest addition to the family at Chester Zoo.
The baby was born overnight on August 21 by her 43-year-old mum, Mandy, following an eight-and-a-half-month pregnancy.
Mum Mandy has one daughter and two granddaughters, but primate experts at the zoo are yet to determine the sex of the new arrival but have declared the birth as a ‘hugely significant’ for the species.New estimates suggest that as few as 18,000 Western chimpanzees remain in Africa and it’s the first subspecies of chimpanzee to be added to the list of critically endangered apes.
Andy Lenihan, Team Manager of the Primates section at Chester Zoo, said: “Mandy is a wonderful mum. She’s bonded instantly with her new baby and can be seen protectively cradling it in her left arm at all times.
“It’s a little too soon to tell if her new arrival is male or female as a newborn chimpanzee will remain in the arms of mum for several months until they develop the confidence to start exploring independently. Most importantly though, it’s bright eyed, alert and getting stronger by the day.
“A new arrival always creates a lot of excitement – it’s a real extended-family affair as many of the females in the group often want to help to take care of the newcomer while, for some of the juveniles, seeing a mum with a new baby is a completely new experience. It’s great to see the other youngsters watching Mandy closely and learning from such a natural mother.”
A scientific research project which assesses the genetics of all the chimpanzees living in European zoos found the genetic make-up of the group at Chester Zoo is vital to the future of the Western chimpanzee subspecies.