This baby chimpanzee is taking home all the awards right now.
Not only is it remarkably cute, but it is also the world’s rarest chimpanzee, as he’s part of a critically endangered species.
The Western chimpanzee is a species that has lost 80% of its population over the last 25 years, and the first chimpanzee subspecies to ever be declared critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
It’s thought around 18,000 Western chimpanzees remain across Africa as a whole. They can still be found in Senegal to Ghana in West Africa, but have become extinct in Benin, Burkina Faso and Togo.
Luckily, the baby – yet to be named – born on December 9, is in good health, and spending the first few weeks bonding with his new mum ZeeZee and the other 22 chimps in his enclosure.
The chimp is likely to be named after a rockstar or famous pop icon to boost the profile of the endangered species – and, as we all know, they do share 98% of their genetic makeup with humans.
As Chester Zoo’s team manager, Andrew Lenihan explained: “It’s been a tradition of ours for decades now to name baby chimpanzees after famous rock and popstars in a bid to help raise some urgent attention for this charismatic species. We’ve previously welcomed Dylan (Bob), Alice (Cooper) and Annie (Lennox) – so watch this space!”
Lenihan also said: “A birth always creates a lot of excitement in the group and raising a youngster soon becomes a real extended family affair. 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.”
Adorably, chimpanzees have a white tuft of hair on their rear which they lose after puberty. This encourages other chimps to be gentle with them.
Lenihan added: “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.”
So his birth is not only a time to oggle over a baby animal, but also presents “real optimism” for primate conservationists. Concerns over declining numbers in Gabon, Uganda and Nigeria have prompted major conservation efforts.