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1_A week-old Sulawesi macaque is nursed by mum Lisa (10)

A rare baby Sulawesi Crested Macaque, a species that’s critically endangered in the wild, is the latest arrival at Chester Zoo.

Keepers recently released the first pictures of the newborn monkey, which is being looked after by its mum Lisa after being born on April 17.

Sulawesi Crested Macaques are one of the world’s most endangered primates, and it’s estimated that fewer than 5,000 are left on their native island of Sulawesi in Indonesia.

The species is listed as “Critically Endangered” on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, largely because their habitat is disappearing due to illegal logging. They are also targets for poachers and are over-hunted for food as, in their homeland, macaques are considered a local delicacy and are served up on special occasions such as weddings. As a result, their wild numbers are believed to have plummeted by around 80% in the last 30 years.

2_A week-old Sulawesi macaque is nursed by mum Lisa (22)

3_A week-old Sulawesi macaque is nursed by mum Lisa (17)

4_A week-old Sulawesi macaque is nursed by mum Lisa (15)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

Dr. Nick Davis, the zoo’s assistant curator of mammals, said, “Our new arrival means we now have a group of 15 Sulawesi Crested Macaques. They’re a key part of a European endangered species breeding programme that is working to protect this charismatic species, which, sadly, is highly threatened in the wild.”

“Sulawesi Macaques are extremely intelligent and social animals, so a new arrival always creates excitement in the group. This is also the first baby to be fathered by dominant male Momassa, making it all the more special.”

Davis continued, “Macaques have very obvious individual personalities which can be seen in facial expressions, and so we’re looking forward to seeing what sort of character our tiny youngster will develop into. At the moment though, our new arrival will spend time playing and getting to know the rest of the group. We’re ever so pleased to say that both are doing very well so far.”

The new youngster, who is yet to be sexed or named, is the first of its kind to be born at Chester Zoo since its group of Sulawesi Macaques moved into their new state-of-the-art home. Islands (the UK’s biggest ever zoo development) showcases a vast array of threatened species from the region of South East Asia.

Johanna Rode-Margono, the zoo’s South East Asia conservation field programme officer, added, “It’s important to us that our new Islands zone, and the amazing species living in it, helps us to throw a spotlight on the conservation work that we’re doing out in the field to try and protect some of South East Asia’s most endangered animals.”

“We are working with the local people living in Sulawesi and providing support to help save the forests and the diverse animal species living there.”

Much more below the fold!

The Celebes Crested Macaque -Macaca nigra- (also known as the Crested Black Macaque, Sulawesi Crested Macaque, or the Black Ape) is an Old World monkey that lives in the Tangkoko reserve, northeast of the Indonesian island of Sulawesi (Celebes), as well as on smaller neighboring islands.

Sulawesi Macaques are largely vegetarian but will occasionally feed on insects and small mammals such as mice. Individuals maintain relationships by grooming one another and communicating with grunts, and they smack their lips as a greeting sign. Adult males tend to ‘yawn’, not as a sign of tiredness, but to display their impressive large teeth in order to assert dominance and avoid conflict.

In the wild, it lives typically in groups of five to twenty-five animals, and occasionally in groups of up to seventy-five animals. Smaller groups have only a single adult male, while larger groups have up to four adult males. However, adult females always outnumber adult males by about 4:1. Young adult males are forced to leave their birth group upon maturity, sometimes forming bachelor groups before seeking a connection to an existing adult mixed gender group.

Gestation time for the Sulawesi Crested Macaque is 174 days, and birth (typically of a single offspring) usually happens in the spring when food is more plentiful. Young animals are nursed for approximately one year, becoming fully mature in three to four years, females somewhat sooner than males.

5_A week-old Sulawesi macaque is nursed by mum Lisa (14)

6_A week-old Sulawesi macaque is nursed by mum Lisa (1)

7_A week-old Sulawesi macaque is nursed by mum Lisa (30)

8_A week-old Sulawesi macaque is nursed by mum Lisa (3)

9_A week-old Sulawesi macaque is nursed by mum Lisa

10_A week-old Sulawesi macaque is nursed by mum Lisa (8)

11_A week-old Sulawesi macaque is nursed by mum Lisa (7)

12_A week-old Sulawesi macaque is nursed by mum Lisa (26)