The only zoo in the UK to house the endangered bonobo is celebrating the arrival of its newest resident, born on July 25 to experienced 19-year-old mother Cheka.

Cheka became a mother for the third time on July 25.

The baby bonobo, which is yet to be sexed, brings the group at Twycross Zoo to 12 individuals, and joins the four other infants welcomed in the last five years.

Cheka has been resident at the zoo since 2004 and has already produced two offspring as part of a carefully planned European Endangered Species Programme (EEP). Her other offspring are nine-year-old daughter Gemena, who now resides at Leipzig Zoo in Germany, and five-year-old son Winton.

Sharing 98% of their DNA with humans, bonobos are an endangered species of great ape found only in the basin of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Twycross Zoo’s director of life sciences Charlotte Macdonald said: “It’s very important to us at Twycross Zoo that we teach our visitors about our bonobos – especially as we are the only zoo in the UK to keep and breed them.

“In appearance they are often mistaken for chimpanzees by people who have not seen them before, but look more closely and their appearance and behaviour is completely different – they are a very lively group. We are working with a number of universities around the country to study their behaviour and learn more about this amazing species.”

Twycross Zoo is a partner of the Great Apes Survival Partnership, a United Nations initiative committed to ensuring the long-term survival of chimpanzees, gorillas, bonobos and orang-utans, and their habitats in Africa and Asia.

To support the population in the Congo, Twycross Zoo provides funding to Lola Ya Bonobo, the world’s only bonobo sanctuary, which cares for orphaned and injured bonobos. Also, researchers from the sanctuary have visited Twycross Zoo and given talks to visitors to raise awareness of the plight facing the bonobo.

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