By Adam Dutton

A rare baby chimpanzee clings to his adoring mother after being born in front of astonished visitors at Chester Zoo.

The new male infant was born to mum Alice following an eight-month pregnancy.

Zookeepers said the birth of the male was “vitally important for the future of the species”.

Pictures and video show the tiny newborn being carefully cradled by mum and other female relatives in the 22-strong group.

Mike Jordan, animal and plant director, 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.

“What’s also great to see is that some of the others in the group, especially the younger females, are really intrigued by the new baby and are learning all about motherhood from Alice.

“This is an important learning curve for them and this experience can be really useful for when they hopefully go on to have babies of their own.

“A thriving conservation breeding programme is key to the long-term protection of these animals.”

The male infant chimpanzee was born to mum Alice which zookeepers claim is “vitally important for the future of the species” (Pix via SWNS)
The male infant chimpanzee was born to mum Alice which zookeepers claim is “vitally important for the future of the species” (Pix via SWNS)

Chimpanzees are nearing extinction in many countries, due to deforestation and commercial hunting for bushmeat.

The chimpanzees at Chester Zoo are part of an international conservation breeding programme in a bid to boost their numbers.

The male infant chimpanzee was born to mum Alice which zookeepers claim is “vitally important for the future of the species” (Pix via SWNS)
The male infant chimpanzee was born to mum Alice which zookeepers claim is “vitally important for the future of the species” (Pix via SWNS)

Mr Jordan added: “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.”

Human-related activities such as the illegal wildlife trade and poaching have severely impacted chimpanzee populations in Africa.

Deforestation, driven by agricultural expansion and logging, has significantly reduced their natural habitats.