14 Jun 2018

The adorable female chimp is the first of her species to be born at the zoo for nearly a decade. Primate experts say the baby is in good health and inseparable from her mum ZeeZee!

The birth follows a project which has carefully assessed the genetics of all chimpanzees in zoos across Europe. The study has confirmed that the chimps at the zoo are one of the rarest chimpanzee species in the world and has established the group as a critically important breeding population.

Mike Jordan, Collections Director, said:

“The new arrival is particularly important as it contributes to better genetic diversity in the European Western chimpanzee population. It comes after a five-year-long scientific study of chimpanzees in zoos across Europe confirmed that the group of chimps at Chester is one of the rarest in the world – making it even more important to conservation breeding than was ever thought.“In the wild, the Western chimpanzee is under huge threat from bush-meat hunting as well as extensive and increasing habitat loss and fragmentation from human activity, so much so that it is the first ever chimpanzee subspecies to join the list of critically endangered great apes. It makes the group at Chester an important conservation insurance population and the new baby is hugely significant.” 

The Western chimpanzee is found in West Africa where it is patchily distributed from Senegal to Ghana and is already thought to be extinct in Benin, Burkina Faso and Togo. 

At Chester Zoo, the new arrival has increased the number in the group to 20 and zoo primate experts say the baby has excited other chimps in the family.

Tim Rowlands, Curator of Mammals, added:

“Mum and baby have bonded positively and ZeeZee is naturally being incredibly protective of her newborn. She’s a wonderful, experienced mother and has learnt much of her parenting skills from her own mum Mandy, who is also part of the group and always on hand to lend her support. “The interactions between the group are incredibly fascinating to watch. A new baby brings a new dynamic and the group is in a real state of excitement – particularly given that they haven’t seen a baby in their group for the best part of a decade.”

Chester Zoo is also actively involved in the conservation of some of the world’s rarest chimpanzee subspecies in the wild and, for more than 20 years, has supported the last stronghold of another of the rarest chimpanzee subspecies, the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee, in Gashaka Gumti National park in Nigeria.

Chimp fast facts:

  • Scientific name: Pan troglodytes verus
  • The Western chimpanzee is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
  • The new baby at Chester Zoo was born on 04/06/18
  • Mum ZeeZee was herself born at Chester Zoo on 15/02/94  
  • ZeeZee has previously had two babies
  • The arrival marks the first time in almost 10 years that the zoo has welcomed a baby chimpanzee. The last, Tina, was also born to mum ZeeZee in February 2009