The Chester Zoo in Cheshire, England has officially announced the birth of a Western chimpanzee, the most endangered subspecies of chimpanzees, according to CNN.
The new addition, who was born to mother ZeeZee, will join a troop of 22 Western chimpanzees at the British zoo.
“We’re incredibly proud to see a precious new baby in the chimpanzee troop,” Andrew Lenihan, team manager at the zoo’s primate section, said in an official release issued on Thursday. “Mum ZeeZee and her new arrival instantly bonded and she’s been doing a great job of cradling him closely and caring for him.”
Thankfully, the new baby has already been accepted by his extended family. The baby is an essential asset to the critically endangered population.
“A birth always creates a lot of excitement in the group and raising a youngster soon becomes a real extended family affair,” Lenihan went on. “You’ll often see the new baby being passed between other females who want to lend a helping hand and give ZeeZee some well-deserved rest, and that’s exactly what her daughter, Stevie, is doing with her new brother. It looks as though she’s taken a real shine to him, which is great to see.”
“He may not know it, but ZeeZee’s new baby is a small but vital boost to the global population of Western chimpanzees, at a time when it’s most needed for this critically endangered species,” Lenihan added.
The Western chimpanzee is the only chimpanzee subspecies categorized as “critically endangered” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, who says that they are facing “an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.”
The Western chimpanzee has gone extinct in Benin, Burkina Faso and Togo, but still lives in some parts of West Africa, with the largest population remaining in Guinea, and has seen an 80% population decline over the last 25 years due to habitat destruction, poaching, and disease, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.