Chester Zoo is celebrating the birth of a threatened spider monkey.
The rare baby primate, a Colombian black-headed spider monkey, has been spotted being cradled in the arms of experienced mum, Kiara (11).
Colombian black-headed spider monkeys are considered vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and are at risk of extinction, with more than a quarter of its population estimated to have been lost in just the last half a century.
The South American primates are found mainly in Colombia and Panama where they are being increasingly threatened by hunting, illegal trafficking and the destruction of their tropical rainforest habitat.
One of the world’s most endangered primates has been born at Chester Zoo.
The precious youngster - a critically endangered Sumatran orangutan – has arrived to mum Emma (34), following an eight and a half month pregnancy. Dad Puluh is also aged 34.
Primate experts at the zoo say they are yet to determine the sex of the tiny newcomer, who has been clinging tightly to mum since entering the world on Saturday 19 June.
The birth is being celebrated by conservationists around the world, including in the species’ native South East Asia, where fewer than 14,000 of the great apes remain in the wild. Sumatran orangutans are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and face an extremely high risk of extinction.
The baby is first of its kind to be born at the zoo since its group of Sumatran orangutans moved back to their ‘Monsoon Forest’ home - nine months after the UK’s largest zoological building was restored to its former glory following a tragic fire in December 2019. Chester Zoo is currently the only zoo in mainland Britain which cares for Sumatran orangutans.
Claire Parry, one of the zoo’s specialist Primate Keepers, said:
“Sumatran orangutans are one of the world’s most threatened large mammals and so the safe arrival of a new baby is an incredibly special moment. Emma is an experienced mum and already she’s formed a really close bond with the little one – it’s wonderful to see her cradling it so gently.
“The youngster is a vital boost to the international conservation breeding programme, which is working to ensure a safety-net population for these critically endangered animals within the world’s most progressive zoos. Crucially, we also hope the baby will help us to raise more awareness about the destruction of rainforests in South East Asia that is driving this magnificent species, and many others, towards extinction.”
The Sumatran orangutan is one of the world’s most endangered great apes; threatened by hunting, illegal logging and habitat loss as its rainforest home is cleared to make way for palm oil plantations.
Palm oil is a highly efficient oil that is found in more than 50% of supermarket products globally. As the demand for unsustainable palm oil intensifies, orangutans are increasingly being edged towards extinction.
A team of conservationists at Chester Zoo are working in Indonesia, alongside sustainable palm oil farms and NGOs, to help prevent further deforestation.
Nick Davis, Deputy Curator of Mammals at the zoo, added:
“For many years now our teams at the zoo have been working with palm oil suppliers in the UK, and with partners and NGOs in Indonesia, to encourage the growing of sustainable palm oil. We want there to be no further deforestation and, where palm oil plantations do already exist, we want them to include wildlife safe corridors to allow animals to move through them freely. With the help of our partners, we have also started to reconnect areas of rainforest by replanting native trees back into the ground where they once stood.
“With palm oil being such a widely used product, people power is key in turning the tide if we’re to save these charismatic animals. Like most of the products we buy, if consumers demand certified sustainable alternatives, then suppliers will quickly change their ways and practices – bringing an end to the destruction some of the most treasured ecosystems on the planet.”
The city of Chester became the world’s first Sustainable Palm Oil City after conservationists at the zoo completely revamped the supply chains of businesses in the area to only include palm oil from sustainable, deforestation-free suppliers. This included local restaurants, cafes, hotels, fast food outlets, schools and workplaces. The project is now being used a blueprint in other communities in the UK in a bid to save South East Asia’s most precious wildlife.
Conservationists at Chester Zoo are celebrating the birth of a rare red-bellied lemur - the first of its kind ever to be born at the zoo.
The fluffy youngster, whose sex is currently unknown, arrived to parents Aina (4) and Frej (8) following a 127-day pregnancy.
The new baby was born around six weeks ago but keepers say the precious primate was so small and hidden in among mum’s thick fur that only now is it starting to become more visible. It was estimated to weigh just 70 grams at birth - around the same weight as a banana.
The birth is an important boost to the European breeding programme for the species with the red-bellied lemur listed as vulnerable to extinction in its native Madagascar – the only place where lemurs are found in the wild.
Experts say destruction of their forest homes, caused by people for agriculture and timber, as well as hunting for their meat has resulted in huge declines for all of the island’s 100 different species of lemur.
Claire Parry, Assistant Team Manager of Primates at Chester Zoo, said:
“The birth of any lemur is real cause for celebration as these primates are vulnerable to extinction in the wild and every new arrival is a vital addition to the endangered species breeding programme. This one, however, is extra special as it’s also the first baby red-bellied lemur ever to be born at Chester Zoo.
“Aina is a first-time mum who’s really taking motherhood in her stride - she’s very confident with her new addition. The baby is always seen clinging on tightly to her, which is exactly what we want to see, and this lovely little lemur looks incredibly content hidden in among mum’s warm fur.”
Mike Jordan, Director of Animal and Plants at the zoo, added:
“With lemurs considered as being the most endangered group of mammals in the world by the IUCN, every birth is significant. Lemurs are endemic to Madagascar where they are severely under threat with over 94% of all lemur populations at risk of disappearing forever. Sadly, we know that many larger lemur species have already become extinct.
“We need to ensure the species that do now remain on this diverse island are safe and protected. That’s why our conservationists have been engaged in protecting habitats and the unique species they are home to in Madagascar for over 10 years now. In 2015, the Malagasy government established The Mangabe New Protected Area, co-managed by our field partner Madagasikara Voakajy and the communities that live in Mangabe itself, providing a safe haven for nine species of lemur, as well as lots of other threatened species. We are fully involved in efforts to prevent their extinction.”
A rare Rothschild’s giraffe was born to mum Orla at 3am on 3 March 2021, at the UK’s Chester Zoo.
The “little” guy has been named after Lake Albert in Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda, where Chester Zoo is helping to protect Rothschild's giraffes just like him.
Once wide-ranging across Kenya, Uganda and Sudan, the Rothschild’s giraffe has been almost eliminated from these areas and now only survives in a few small, isolated populations.
Encouragingly, they are starting to recover with the support of conservation programmes such as those supported by Chester Zoo but they’re still threatened with habitat loss and an ongoing poaching crisis, which has seen giraffes hunted for their tails to be used as good-luck charms.
Working with The Giraffe Conservation Foundation and Uganda Wildlife Authority to monitor, track and protect the giraffe population in Uganda’s Kidepo Valley National Park, Chester Zoo is delighted that even with the challenges the pandemic has thrown their way, numbers are slowly increasing. It’s positive news and they must push on and do all they can to help prevent the extinction of these gentle giants.
The birth of a rare baby giraffe has been caught on camera at Chester Zoo.
The leggy new arrival – a rare Rothschild’s giraffe - was born to mum Orla at 3am on 3 March 2021, landing onto soft straw from a height of around 2m (6.5ft).
Incredible CCTV footage captured the special moment the young male calf entered the world, as well as his wobbly first steps and his precious first suckle.
Already standing at 6ft tall and weighing 70kg, giraffe experts say he will grow to be 18ft and weigh over 1000kg.
Sarah Roffe, Giraffe Team Manager at the zoo, said:
“Giraffes give birth standing up and so their young receive quite a welcome to the world, dropping around six feet to the ground. Although this seems like a long way, the fall actually breaks the umbilical cord and helps to stimulate the calf’s first breath – it’s a dramatic entry but it’s just how they do it!
“The new calf has arrived at the end of a 15-month pregnancy for mum Orla and already he stands at 6ft - he could grow to be up to 18ft tall. Orla, an experienced mother, has slipped back into the role like a natural. She’s doing everything right, and it’s lovely to see the close bond between the two of them.
“This latest arrival joins a group of eight Rothschild’s giraffes at the zoo and it’s always an exciting time for the herd when a new calf arrives. Two of the older females, Dagmar and Tula, appear to have taken on the role of protective aunties, helping Orla to watch out for the newborn. The other youngsters in the group love running around together and so, as soon as the calf starts to increase in confidence and venture outside, I’m sure they’ll enjoy having a new playmate around.”
The Rothschild’s giraffe is highly threatened and its population has suffered a 50% decline in recent decades, making it one of the world’s most at-risk mammals. Experts estimate that as few as 1,600 remain across Africa with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) citing habitat loss and poaching as two of its biggest threats.
Chester Zoo has a long history of protecting Rothschild’s giraffes in the wild, working with the Giraffe Conservation Foundation and the Uganda Wildlife Authority in Uganda. Despite recent challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic, the team has just reported a sixth consecutive yearly increase in giraffe numbers in the areas where the zoo and its partners work.
Mike Jordan, Director of Animals and Plants at the zoo, added:
“Once wide-ranging across Kenya, Uganda and Sudan, the Rothschild’s giraffe has been almost eliminated from these areas and now only survives in a few small, isolated populations. Encouragingly, they are starting to recover with the support of conservation programmes such as those supported by Chester Zoo but they’re still threatened with habitat loss and an ongoing poaching crisis, which has seen giraffes hunted for their tails to be used as good-luck charms.
“Working with The Giraffe Conservation Foundation and Uganda Wildlife Authority to monitor, track and protect the giraffe population in Uganda’s Kidepo Valley National Park, we’re delighted that even with the challenges the pandemic has thrown our way, numbers are slowly increasing. Its positive news and we must push on and do all we can to help prevent the extinction of these gentle giants.”
Conservationists are celebrating the birth of a rare baby okapi at Chester Zoo.
The female calf, born to mum K’tusha (7) and dad Stomp (17), arrived safely following a 14-month-long pregnancy.
The zoo’s CCTV cameras captured the calf’s first wobbly steps as she was gently encouraged to her feet by mum, shortly after birth. Now, the shy new arrival has stepped outside for the first time after spending the first few weeks of life snuggled up in a cosy nest.
Zookeepers have named the adorable youngster ‘Nia Nia’ in homage to a small village that is in the centre of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve, a place where the zoo’s field partners are based, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – the only country in the world where okapis are found in the wild.
Some of the world’s smallest species of monkey has been born at Chester Zoo.
The pair of eastern pygmy marmosets, one of the most miniature primate species on Earth, arrived to parents Zoe (3) and Baldrick (4).
The tiny twins each measure just two inches (five centimetres) in length and weigh no more than 10 grams.
Keepers say the babies are already “highly inquisitive” but are so small that it will be some time yet until their genders are known.
Holly Webb, a Primate Keeper at Chester Zoo, said:
“It’s wonderful to see new additions within the marmoset family and it’s almost unbelievable just how small the babies are when they are first born. They are no bigger than a ping pong ball!
“Mum Zoe and dad Baldrick have jumped straight into parenthood. Zoe is ever so caring and, unlike other primates, dad is heavily involved in the upbringing of the youngsters. Baldrick sensed that Zoe was ready to give birth and even put on a little extra weight to give him the energy to care for the twins. He’s really got stuck into the parenting - we spotted him carrying the babies around on his back when they were just one day old.
“New babies always strengthen family bonds and some of the younger primates in the group have also been carrying the new arrivals around. It’s great to see them learn and pick up parenting tips from Zoe and Baldrick, and that experience will be important if they one day go on to have young of their own. The fact that younger members of the family are trusted to carry around such delicate new-borns, builds a lot of trust within the group.
“The babies are already very inquisitive and aware of their surroundings. I can’t wait to see them develop their own little personalities.”
The eastern pygmy marmoset is native to the rainforests of western Brazil, south-eastern Colombia, eastern Ecuador and eastern Peru. These miniature monkeys are threatened by habitat loss and often exposed to hunting or their capture for the pet trade.
Dr Nick Davis, Deputy Curator of Mammals at the zoo, said:
“Many primate species around the world are highly threatened, often due to large-scale habitat destruction, hunting and the illegal wildlife trade. Sadly, this is very much the case for the eastern pygmy marmoset.
“Despite their tiny stature, pygmy marmosets make a lot of loud noises, especially when calling out to attract a mate or warning others of danger. Even though they are the world’s most miniature species of monkey, their whistles and squeals can be heard throughout the rainforest. Unfortunately, as their forest homes continue to disappear, this can be to their detriment, as a lack of cover leaves them even more exposed to illegal hunters and trappers. Thankfully, conservation teams are working hard to restore forest and create safe areas while new arrivals at the zoo help us to further highlight what needs to be done to prevent their extinction.”
Pygmy marmosets are social animals, have one mate for life and their tails are longer than their bodies, which helps keep them balanced as they pass from branch to branch through the forest. They grow to around eight inches long and just 130g.
The word marmoset originates from the French word “marmouset” which means shrimp and their gestation period is around four-and-a-half months. The species has specialised diet which includes insects, fruit and tree sap.
Zookeepers at Chester Zoo are celebrating the birth of a rare baby rhino.
The female calf was safely delivered by new mum Ema Elsa following a 15-month-long pregnancy.
The birth was caught on the zoo’s CCTV cameras and shows the little one up on her feet and suckling from mum just 10 minutes later.
Now, the zoo has launched a poll on its Facebook page, inviting the public to help name the precious new arrival. Keepers have shortlisted the names Kasulu (a town in Tanzania), Koshi (meaning ‘to try’) and Kaari (meaning ‘young girl/young daughter’) for voters to choose from.
Conservationists at the zoo say the arrival of the calf – an eastern black rhino - will be ‘celebrated globally’ as fewer than 1000 now remain on the planet.
The population of eastern black rhinos in zoos across Europe is vital to the long-term future of the species, with several rhinos born as a result of the carefully coordinated breeding programme between European zoos having been introduced to Africa to boost wild populations.
Most recently, in June 2019, experts at Chester Zoo spearheaded the transportation of a group of eastern black rhinos from Europe to Akagera National Park, Rwanda.
Andrew McKenzie, Team Manager of rhinos at the zoo, said:
“The birth of a critically endangered eastern black rhino is always very special. And to be able to watch on camera as a calf is born is an incredible privilege - with rhino numbers so, so low it, sadly, isn’t something that’s captured very often. Seeing the little one then get to her feet with a gentle nudge from mum; take her first tentative steps and suckle for the first time is then the icing on the cake. It really is heart-warming stuff.
“The whole team here is overjoyed. Mum and calf have bonded wonderfully and have been showing us all of the right signs. These rhinos have been pushed to the very edge of existence and every single addition to the European endangered species breeding programme is celebrated globally. It’s sadly no exaggeration to say that it’s entirely possible that we could lose them forever within our lifetime and the world’s most progressive zoos are very much part of the fight to prevent their extinction.”
The eastern black rhino is listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as critically endangered. In the wild, they are now found only in Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda.
Experts say the multibillion pound illegal wildlife trade is driving the species towards extinction - the surge in demand of rhino horn stemming from the Asian medicine market.
“In the short term, Ema Elsa and her new baby will help to highlight the perilous position that this species is in and we hope they encourage more people to join the fight to prevent the extinction of these gentle giants. In the future, as we work to ensure more safe areas, we hope Ema and her offspring, like others before them born into the European breeding programme, are one day able to make the journey back to Africa.”
Conservation scientists at Chester Zoo, working out of the UK’s only zoo-based animal endocrine lab, have developed a technique to track black rhino oestrus cycles via hormone analysis of their dung – helping keepers to decide when best to introduce females to a mate to help optimise chances of a successful mating outcome, and subsequently confirm and track a pregnancy. This method is now being used in Kenya where rangers and vets, using a field lab set up with the help of experts from Chester, are deploying the technique to monitor wild rhino populations.
In addition to rhino breeding, Chester Zoo has, for many years, also supported conservation efforts to protect eastern black rhinos in Africa and continues to fund and provide expertise to numerous sanctuaries, partners and wildlife reserves and to train anti-poaching rangers.
Chester Zoo is celebrating the birth of a critically endangered Bornean orangutan.
The new baby took keepers by surprise as mum Leia had been given a pregnancy test just months before, which came back negative. Orangutans are typically pregnant for 259 days (eight and a half months).
Keepers say the new arrival is ‘bright and alert’ and is suckling well from mum, who is incredibly protective of her new baby.
Bornean orangutans are listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as critically endangered in the wild.
Threatened by illegal hunting, habitat destruction and the conversion of their forest to palm oil plantations, the species has been pushed to the very brink of existence. Recent estimates suggest as few as 55,000 Bornean orangutans may remain on the island of Borneo in Indonesia - the only place they can be found in the wild. With this huge decline in the population, the group of orangutans at Chester Zoo are part of a vital international breeding programme which is working to conserve the species.
Chris Yarwood, a primate keeper at the zoo, said:
“The pregnancy tests we had carried out on Leia in the months prior to the birth had actually returned negative results. It was therefore a wonderful surprise to arrive one morning to see her protectively cradling a beautiful new arrival.
“Leia enjoys spending lots of time alone with her baby and has so far been quite shy about showing it off. She always keeps it really close to her and so we’ve not yet been able to clearly determine what the gender of the infant is. What we are sure of though is that the baby is bright, alert and suckling well from mum and has developed well over the last couple of months. This is Leia’s second baby - she’s a great mum and is doing a fab job once again.
“Chester is one of the few zoos in Europe that cares for both Bornean and Sumatran orangutans. These are critically endangered animals and, importantly, we’ve seen babies from both sub-species born in recent times. It just goes to show that, despite all of the uncertainty in the world right now, life is carrying on as normal for the orangutans, which is really uplifting to see.”
Dr Nick Davis, the zoo’s Deputy Curator of Mammals, added:
“Bornean orangutans are the largest arboreal mammals in the world and how fast their numbers are plummeting is frightening. They are victims of illegal hunting and habitat loss and are highly threatened by the unsustainable oil palm industry, which is having a devastating effect on the forests where they live.
“These magnificent animals are being pushed to the very edge of existence and it really could be the case that we soon lose them forever. It’s absolutely vital therefore that there’s a sustainable population of Bornean orangutans in the world’s progressive zoos - every addition to the European endangered species breeding programme is so, so important.”
Chester Zoo is working with conservation partners HUTAN in a bid to protect wild orangutans in Borneo. Conservationists have been carrying out research in the Kinabatangan - home to one of the largest populations of orangutans in the Sabah region of the island - to gain a better understanding of how orangutans are adapting to an increase in oil palm plantations and the new landscapes which they have created.
A team of zoo experts has also helped to create special ‘orangutan bridges’ – designed to connect pockets of fragmented forest and enable orangutans to safely travel between different areas. Elsewhere, the zoo is working on environmental education programmes, which teach communities surrounding the forests about how they can help save the species and has also supported local NGO, the Borneo Nature Foundation, in tackling forest fires to help protect the Bornean orangutans’ habitat. Dr Davis continued:
“There’s still a huge need to tackle the excessive deforestation in Borneo and show people everywhere that they can make a difference to the long-term survival of orangutans. We really hope that Leia’s new baby helps to further highlight how simple everyday choices, like choosing products which contain only sustainably sourced palm oil, can have a massive impact on the future of these remarkable animals.”
Here in the UK, Chester Zoo is campaigning against the use of unsustainable palm oil in everyday household and food items, working with national governmental organisations and industries using palm oil to adopt Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) practices and raise awareness of the devastating effects unsustainable palm oil has on wildlife. Visit www.actforwildlife.org.uk/orangutans to join the fight for orangutans.
The first set of Andean bear twins ever to be born in the UK have emerged from their den at Chester Zoo.
The playful cubs were born in January, but have only now started to venture out and explore, having spent their first six months cuddled up by the protective side of their mum, Lima (8).
Revealed as one boy and one girl, the rare cubs were spotted outside enjoying a bit of ‘friendly rough and tumble’ and attempting to climb trees, before following mum back to their den for a well-deserved nap.
Bear conservationists at the zoo – which recently reopened after three months of closure - have named the adorable duo Pacha (female) and Mateo (male), and have hailed the birth of the cubs as “very, very special.” Experts estimate that fewer than 10,000 Andean bears remain in the wild.
Lucy Edwards, Chester Zoo’s Assistant Team Manager of Carnivores, said:
“Andean bears are incredibly shy animals and, for this reason, are still something of mystery to conservationists. So to see mum Lima allowing her two little cubs to explore so freely and enjoy a bit of friendly rough and tumble is just wonderful – it’s very, very special. The twin cubs are so full of energy and their playful personalities are really starting to show - it looks like they will be keeping mum very busy.
“Just a few weeks ago, while the zoo was closed, a small team of keepers and vets managed to give the cubs a quick check over and we’re very happy to report that both were given a clean bill of health. It’s great that we can now safely welcome back visitors and they can learn more about Andean bears and see the twins for themselves – an incredibly rare sight, even for conservationists studying them out in the field day in and day out.”
The species was originally made famous by the classic children’s character Paddington Bear who, although found in a London train station in the books, was known to be from ‘deepest, darkest Peru’.
Andean bears are the only species of bear inhabit South America and, as well as Peru, they are found in Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia. They are listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as vulnerable to extinction.
“Mum Lima is doing an incredible job caring for her new cubs and they seem to be really thriving under her watchful eye. Her new arrivals are vital additions to the endangered species breeding programme, which is working to preserve the species, help conservationists to learn more about them and, ultimately, protect the long-term future of these beautiful bears.
“Alongside this important work in the zoo, our conservationists have also been working in Bolivia, alongside our partners the local NGO PROMETA and the University of Oxford, to understand how Andean bears live in the wild. Together, we are striving to find new ways to prevent conflict between bears and humans – a key threat to this species. The project is the first of its kind in the region and aims to have bears and humans living side by side in harmony.”
Andean bears share their habitat with some of South America’s poorest and most vulnerable communities, whose livelihoods are being severely challenged by climate change. Sadly, this means the bears are often targeted by farmers and land owners, as they can pose a threat to crops and livestock in their search for food sources, which are dwindling in their natural range. This is a direct result of habitat loss, brought about by mass-scale deforestation and climate change. Experts suggest that more than 30% of the forests in South America have disappeared in the last 20 years.
Andean bear facts:
The cubs were born on 10 January 2020
Mum Lima was born on 12/01/2012. She is 8 years old
Dad Bernie was born on 14/01/2010. He is 10 years old