Belfast Zoo is celebrating the arrival of the first Chimpanzee to be born at the zoo since 1997. On March 17, little Lucy came into the world to mother Lizzie, and father, Andy.
Zoo curator, Julie Mansell, is delighted with the latest arrival, “We had been looking forward to celebrating Lizzie’s 40th birthday this summer and it was a wonderful surprise to discover her pregnancy. She has been a wonderful mother in the past and this time is no exception. Lewis, Kim, Phoebe, Sophie and Andy are also excited about the new arrival and are paying Lizzie and Lucy extra attention. Our visitors are always fascinated by the chimpanzees, I think, in part, because we recognize so much of ourselves in them. Humans and chimpanzees share 98% of the same DNA!”
Chimpanzees originate from Western Central Africa and The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) believes that chimpanzees are facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild. Populations have declined by more than 66% in the last 30 years due to deforestation, hunting and many other factors. It is therefore imperative that zoos play an active role in the conservation of this species.
Read more about Belfast Zoo's conservation work with chimpanzees after the jump:
Zoo manager, Mark Challis, said, “Almost all apes are either endangered or critically endangered and some professionals have even predicted that all species of ape will be extinct within 30 years, showing the fragility of animal life in the modern world. Throughout 2011, Belfast Zoo fundraised for the EAZA ape campaign which aims to make a significant and lasting contribution to the survival of these iconic animals. With the help of Belfast Zoo visitors, we've raised almost £20,000 for conservation projects in the wild. However, it is incredible that as a zoo we have also been able to play an active role in this species with the arrival of little Lucy!”
Belfast Zoo’s chimpanzees are part of a global and collaborative breeding program. This program is managed by a studbook keeper who provides breeding recommendations based on a number of factors, including genetics. Belfast Zoo was given a recommendation not to breed for a number of years so Lucy’s arrival is extra special.