Extremely rare – and absolutely gorgeous.
Chester Zoo in Cheshire, England has welcomed the birth of the western chimpanzee, the most endangered subspecies of the chimpanzee.
The zoo announced the baby’s birth in a press release on Thursday. The little boy, born to mom ZeeZee, will join a troupe of 22 western chimpanzees at a British zoo.
“We are incredibly proud to see a precious new baby in the chimpanzee troupe,” Andrew Lenihan, team manager in the zoo’s Primate Division, said in the release. “Mum ZeeZee and her new arrival bonded instantly and she did a great job cuddling him closely and caring for him.”
Lenihan said the baby quickly became accepted by his extended family.
“Birth always creates a lot of excitement on set, and raising a young child quickly becomes a real family affair,” Lenihan continued. “You often see the newborn move between other females who want to lend a hand and give ZeeZee some well-deserved rest, and that’s exactly what her daughter Stevie does with her new brother. She seems to have taken a real glamor on him, which is great to see.”
In addition, the young child is an essential asset for a population at risk of extinction.
“He may not know it, but ZeeZee’s new baby represents a small but vital boost to the world’s western chimpanzee population, at a time of great need for this endangered species,” Lenihan added.
Following a decades-old tradition, the newborn at Chester Zoo will be named after the famous rock star, according to the press release.
The western chimpanzee is the only subspecies of chimpanzee classified as “Endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which indicates that they face an “extreme risk of extinction in the wild.” The species is extinct in Benin, Burkina Faso, and Togo, but it still lives in some parts of West Africa, with the largest population remaining in Guinea.
The subspecies has faced an 80% population decline over the past 25 years, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Monkey populations have declined due to habitat destruction, poaching and disease.