CONSERVATIONISTS at Chester Zoo are celebrating the birth of a rare Sulawesi crested macaque monkey – one of the world’s most endangered primates.

The new arrival, who is yet to be sexed or named, was born on May 16 to proud new mum Rumple and dad Mamassa.

In the wild the charismatic primates face numerous threats including habitat loss as a result of deforestation, illegal logging and the expansion of farming land, as well as hunting and the illegal pet trade.

Border Counties Advertizer: A rare baby Sulawesi crested macaque has been born to mum Rumple at Chester Zoo.

The species is currently listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

With fewer than 5,000 individuals estimated to remain in their natural habitat on the island of Sulawesi, and with numbers having plummeted by around 80 per cent in the last 30 years, primate experts say that every birth in conservation zoos helps to safeguard the species.

Mark Brayshaw, head of mammals at the zoo, said: "Sulawesi crested macaques are highly sociable animals that live in large groups, and so the new baby is currently being passed around by mum Rumple to several other females, who are all sharing parenting duties, which is great to see.

“Every birth is a step forward for the international conservation breeding programme that’s working to safeguard the future of this critically endangered species.

"It also provides an opportunity to learn more about their behaviour, biology and social structures, which all helps to inform the efforts to protect the species globally.

Border Counties Advertizer: A rare baby Sulawesi crested macaque has been born to mum Rumple at Chester Zoo.

“These charismatic monkeys face a plethora of threats in wild. While illegal logging has seen their forest home disappear around them, they’re also targets for poachers.

"In their homeland, macaques are considered a local delicacy and are often the food choice for special occasions such as weddings.

"That’s why our conservationists have provided support to the local communities, while also investigating the main causes of deforestation, which all helps to protect the incredible diversity of animals living on the island of Sulawesi.”