An infant chimp dubbed the “world’s rarest chimpanzee” by conservationists was born in Cheshire, England, in January!
Jeff (named after rock legend Jeff Beck), the west African chimp, is on the critically endangered list, according to the zoo’s website. Only 18,000 of the chimpanzees inhabit Africa, and the baby’s arrival will contribute to the species’ survival!
The healthy male chimp joined a group of 22 while bonding with his mother, ZeeZee, who is “doing a great job of cradling him closely and caring for him,” noted the zoo’s team manager Andrew Lenihan.
Deforestation in West Africa, illegal bushmeat hunting, and human diseases have adversely affected the chimp population. “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 noted.
Believe It or Not!, Western chimpanzees are extinct in Benin, Burkina Faso, and Togo, but small populations are still living in areas from Senegal to Ghana in West Africa.
No Monkeying Around
A staggering 80 percent of the western chimpanzee population has disappeared in the last 25 years, according to Mike Jordan, Chester Zoo’s animal and plant director. “The arrival of a healthy baby here at Chester offers us real hope that we can help turn things around for this species,” he said. “We’re in the midst of a global extinction crisis. The UN estimates that 1 million species could be wiped out in our lifetime.”
Chester Zoo is doing its best to reverse this trajectory by fostering an environment for the chimps to grow and thrive.
As for the infant chimp’s reception, the group has “a lot of excitement” from his extended family, according to Lenihan. “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.”
The zoo spent time mulling over names for the infant chimp. Naming Jeff after a rock icon is a tradition at the facility. He will join fellow chimpanzees such as Dylan (Bob), Alice (Cooper), and Annie (Lennox). The animals are named after musicians to raise awareness for the species, reported The Mirror.
By Noelle Talmon, contributor for Ripleys.com
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