Critically endangered monkey born at Chester Zoo
A rare baby Sulawesi crested macaque, a species that’s critically endangered in the wild, is the latest arrival at Chester Zoo.
Keepers have released the first pictures of the new-born monkey, which is being looked after by its mum Lisa after being born on Sunday (17 April).
Sulawesi crested macaques are one of the world’s most endangered primates and it’s estimated that fewer than 5,000 are left on their native island of Sulawesi in Indonesia.
The species is listed as critically endangered on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species largely because their habitat is disappearing due to illegal logging. They are also targets for poachers and are over-hunted for food as, in their homeland, macaques are considered a local delicacy and are served up on special occasions such as weddings. As a result, their wild numbers are believed to have plummeted by around 80% in the last 30 years.
Dr Nick Davis, the zoo’s assistant curator of mammals, said:
Our new arrival means we now have a group of 15 Sulawesi crested macaques. They’re a key part of a European endangered species breeding programme that is working to protect this charismatic species which, sadly, is highly threatened in the wild.
Sulawesi macaques are extremely intelligent and social animals, so a new arrival always creates excitement in the group. This is also the first baby to be fathered by dominant male Momassa, making it all the more special.
Macaques have very obvious individual personalities which can be seen in facial expressions and so we’re looking forward to seeing what sort of character our tiny youngster will develop into. At the moment though, our new arrival will spend time playing and getting to know the rest of the group. We’re ever so pleased to say that both are doing very well so far.
The new youngster, which is yet to be sexed or named, is the first of its kind to be born at the zoo since its group of Sulawesi macaques moved into their new state-of-the-art home. Islands – the UK’s biggest ever zoo development – showcases a vast array of threatened species from the region of South East Asia.
Johanna Rode-Margono, the zoo’s South East Asia conservation field programme officer, added:
It’s important to us that our new Islands zone – and the amazing species living in it – helps us to throw a spotlight on the conservation work that we’re doing out in the field to try and protect some of South East Asia’s most endangered animals.
We are working with the local people living in Sulawesi and providing support to help save the forests and the diverse animal species living there.
Sulawesi crested macaque facts
- Sulawesi crested macaques are listed by the IUCN as critically endangered with extinction in the wild
- They are the most endangered of the seven macaque species that live in rainforests on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia
- There are thought to be fewer than 5000 macaques left on their native land, 2000 of which live in the tropical rainforest in north Sulawesi. This is a particularly important region for conservation
- They are largely vegetarian but will occasionally feed on insects and small mammals such as mice
- Individuals maintain relationships by grooming one another and communicating with grunts. They smack their lips as a greeting sign
- Adult males tend to ‘yawn’ - not a sign of tiredness to display their impressive large teeth in order to assert dominance and avoid conflict