Chester Zoo is enjoying a baby boom of rare species
4:44 AM EST, Thu March 9, 2023
Chester Zoo in the UK has welcomed a baby boom of rare species in the last year. In July 2022, the birth of a baby tree kangaroo brought hope for the endangered species, which is threatened by habitat loss and hunting in the wild. In a complex and peculiar birthing process, the joey arrives undeveloped and embryo-like, before crawling up towards the mother's pouch using a channel she has licked out for it. At six months old, it finally popped its head out and said hello to the world.
In January 2023, after an eight-month pregnancy, a western chimpanzee named ZeeZee gave birth to a tiny baby boy. The critically endangered species is found from Senegal to Ghana in West Africa, but has gone extinct in Benin, Burkina Faso and Togo. The zoo hopes the newborn could give "a small but vital boost" to the global population.
Nessa, a Malayan tapir calf born in November 2022, rests its head on its sleepy mother. The species, native to Southeast Asia, is endangered due to deforestation and hunting. Chester Zoo says the recent birth will help to ensure a safety net population of Malayan tapirs, guarding them from extinction.
Last year, a female greater one-horned rhino (also known as the Indian rhino) calf was born at Chester Zoo weighing in at 50 kilograms (110 pounds). She'll grow to around 1.7 metric tons. The species, populations of which can be found in India and Nepal, is vulnerable to extinction, although thanks to conservation efforts and protected areas it has recovered from very low numbers in the 1900s.
Another breeding success, seven-month-old fossa triplets can be found playing in the Madagascar enclosure of Chester Zoo. Fossas are the top predator in their wild habitat but are highly threatened as a result of habitat loss.
The zoo's latest arrival is a pair of Sumatran tiger cubs, born in January 2023. CCTV cameras inside the mother's den captured a first glimpse of the twins, before they mustered the courage to venture outside. The subspecies of tiger, found on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, is critically endangered, with less than 600 adult individuals estimated to remain, according to the IUCN.
Chester Zoo's conservation breeding program is not limited to mammals. A number of efforts to breed reptiles and amphibians are underway. In October 2022, the zoo welcomed 10 extremely rare Parson's chameleons, measuring 2 centimeters long and weighing just 1.5 grams. Deforestation has severely fragmented the species' habitat in Madagascar, leading to widespread population decline.