'Real excitement' as rare chimpanzee born in front of visitors at Chester Zoo

Adorable pictures show the tiny infant clinging to his mum.
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A rare baby chimpanzee has been born at Chester Zoo - in front of astonished visitors. After an eight month pregnancy, mum Alice gave birth on December 29 and zookeepers say the tiny male infant is "vitally important for the future of the species".

Chester Zoo have now released images and video footage of mum and other female relatives in the 22-strong group cuddling the infant.

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Mike Jordan, Animal & Plant Director at Chester Zoo, said: “A new birth always sparks some real excitement within the chimpanzee group here at Chester.

"While Alice and her new baby are certainly centre of attention among the other chimpanzees they’re still finding some quiet time to get to know one another and can often be seen cuddled up together.”

Chimpanzees are nearing extinction in many countries, due to deforestation and the illegal wildlife trade, which has severely impacted populations in many parts of Africa. However, Chester Zoo are hoping to boost numbers of Chimpanzees through an international conservation breeding programme.

A rare baby chimpanzee clings to his adoring mother Alice at Chester Zoo. Image: Chester ZooA rare baby chimpanzee clings to his adoring mother Alice at Chester Zoo. Image: Chester Zoo
A rare baby chimpanzee clings to his adoring mother Alice at Chester Zoo. Image: Chester Zoo
A rare baby chimpanzee clings to his adoring mother Alice at Chester Zoo. Image: Chester ZooA rare baby chimpanzee clings to his adoring mother Alice at Chester Zoo. Image: Chester Zoo
A rare baby chimpanzee clings to his adoring mother Alice at Chester Zoo. Image: Chester Zoo

Mr Jordan explained: “For nearly 30 years our teams have worked on the ground in Uganda, Nigeria and Gabon in Africa, working hand in hand with wildlife authorities, in-country partners and local communities in an effort protect some of the world’s rarest wild chimpanzee populations and their forest homes.

“These collective efforts, paired with the conservation breeding programme in zoos, gives us hope that we can create a future where chimpanzees thrive long into the future.”