22 July 2019

The birth of a critically endangered West African chimpanzee caught visitors by surprise at Chester Zoo last week.

The new baby was safely delivered in front of a handful of astonished zoo guests at around 5pm on Saturday (13/07). It follows a seven-and-a-half-month pregnancy for doting mum, Alice (27).

Posting on social media, one onlooker described the birth as “honestly one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen” while another said it was “pretty epic.”

Zoo conservationists say the new baby, a female which is yet to named, is in good health and is spending all of her time bonding with mum and other members of the 21-strong group of chimpanzees.

PSSSTT

“This new baby is a significant addition to this multi-generational chimpanzee group at the zoo – and a vital boost to the conservation breeding programme for the critically endangered species”

Mike Jordan, Collections Director at the zoo

Mike Jordan carried on to say:

“Alice and her daughter have bonded well and she’s doing a wonderful job of caring for her so far. A new baby always creates lots of excitement and Alice has plenty of support from some of the other experienced mums in the group, who are all keen to lend a helping hand.

The youngster provides particular cause for celebration given the plight of chimpanzees in Africa. More chimpanzees are hunted for the illegal bush meat trade than are born each year, causing populations to plummet in the wild. Couple that with the fact that humans are destroying their habitats and it’s easy to see why these fantastic animals – one of our closest cousins – are being pushed towards extinction.”

Conservationists at the zoo have been working in Africa to protect some of the world’s rarest chimpanzee species for more than 20 years. The expert teams have helped protect one of the last major strongholds of the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee in Gashaka Gumti National park in Nigeria.

Reaction to the birth on Twitter

 

@amyls__ on Twitter: “DID ANYONE ELSE WITNESS A CHIMPANZEE BEING BORN AT  @chesterzoo YDAY?? Is it okay? Is mum okay? Honestly one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen #chesterzoo”

@razza699 on Twitter: Winessed a chimp give birth at Chester Zoo today too! This was the mum cradling the newborn umbilical cord and all. Was pretty epic

West African chimpanzee facts

  • Scientific name: Pan troglodytes verus
  • The West African chimpanzee is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
  • The subspecies 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
  • The new arrival takes the critically important group at Chester to 21 individuals
  • Chimpanzees are omnivores, eating a varied diet consisting of fruit and plants, as well as insects and meat
  • They are among the most intelligent animals on the planet and, like humans, have learnt how to use tools to help them in various tasks, like using sticks to dig out termites for food
  • Chimpanzees share 98% of their genetic makeup with humans
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