The tiny female youngster, which keepers have named Amidala, is a welcome boost to the European endangered species breeding programme that is working to protect the charismatic monkeys; listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The illegal wildlife trade and large scale habitat loss – due to illegal logging on its native island of Sulawesi in Indonesia – has pushed the Sulawesi macaque to the edge of extinction, with fewer than 5,000 now estimated to remain. They are also targets for poachers and are over-hunted for food as, in their homeland, they are considered a local delicacy and are served up on special occasions such as weddings. The species’ wild number is believed to have plummeted by around 80% in the last 30 years.
The new arrival at the zoo increases the number of Sulawesi crested macaques living in its Islands habitat to 18 – including four offspring for new dad Mamassa who, according to staff, has “become an instant hit with the females” since his arrival in late 2015.
Conservationists from Chester are also working with the local communities in Sulawesi to help protect forests and the diverse animal species living in them.