England's Chester Zoo Welcomes Critically Endangered, 'Bright-Eyed' Western Chimpanzee Baby

The Chester Zoo has welcomed a new addition to their animal family!

A critically endangered Western chimpanzee was born at the England-based zoo back on Aug. 21, the zoo announced in a statement.

The tiny animal was safely delivered by its 43-year-old mother, Mandy, following an eight-and-a-half-month pregnancy. Primate experts at the zoo have yet to determine the sex of the new arrival.

The statement adds that experts have declared the recent birth as "hugely significant" for the species as the Western chimpanzee is the first subspecies of chimpanzee to be added to the list of critically endangered apes.

Andy Lenihan, the team manager of the primates section at Chester Zoo, said in the statement that "Mandy is a wonderful mum," and added that she has "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," he added. "Most importantly though, it’s bright-eyed, alert and getting stronger by the day."

Lenihan also noted that the new arrival has created a lot of excitement within the zoo's chimpanzee family.

"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," he said. "It’s great to see the other youngsters watching Mandy closely and learning from such a natural mother."

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Mike Jordan, the animal & plant director at the zoo, echoed Lenihan's sentiments and said, "We’re incredibly proud to see a precious new baby in the group – it’s a hugely significant addition and a big boost for this species. The chimpanzees here at Chester are a key part of the international efforts working to ensure there’s a viable safety-net population of these critically endangered animals."

"In the wild, the Western chimpanzee is under huge threat from hunting, the illegal bush meat trade and extensive habitat loss – all a result of human activity," he added. "Western chimpanzee populations have declined extremely quickly and continue to do so with little or no prospect of this decline halting. It makes the conservation populations in zoos extremely important for the future."

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