Mother cuddles critically endangered chimpanzee born at Chester Zoo

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Heart-warming footage shows a critically endangered chimpanzee cuddling her newborn after she gave birth at Chester Zoo.

The birth of Western chimpanzee Mandy’s little one on August 21 has been hailed as ‘hugely significant’ for the species, as only 18,000 remain in Africa.

Mandy, 43, is said to have taken to motherhood ‘naturally’, bonding ‘instantly’ with her new arrival who is ‘bright-eyed, alert and getting stronger by the day’.

Primate experts at the zoo will be unable to determine the sex of the baby until it develops the confidence to leave it’s mother’s arms.

A decade of scientific research has determined that the genetic make-up of chimpanzees at Chester Zoo is vital to the future of the Western chimpanzee subspecies.

Zoo staff are ‘extremely proud’ of the happy news following Mandy’s eight-and-a-half-month pregnancy.

Andy Lenihan, Team Manager of the Primates section at Chester Zoo, said: ‘Mandy is a wonderful mum. She’s 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.

Western chimpanzee Mandy nurses her newborn baby in her enclosure at Chester Zoo (Picture: PA)
Staff say Mandy is a ‘natural mother’ (Picture: PA)
The birth is ‘hugely significant’ for the species (Picture: PA)

‘Most importantly though, it’s bright-eyed, alert and getting stronger by the day.

‘A new arrival always creates a lot of excitement – 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 juvenilles, seeing a mum with a new baby is a completely new experience.

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

Mike Jordan, Animal & Plant Director at the zoo, added: ‘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.

‘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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