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Staff at Chester Zoo are celebrating the birth of two baby mandrills.
The adorable young primates entered the world just a month apart last autumn and are the first of their kind to be born at the zoo in more than a decade.
The first to arrive was born to 10-year-old mum Brio on 27 October, providing her with her first taste of parenthood, while the second infant arrived to more experienced mum, Obi (17) on 23 November.
The new babies are half siblings and share the same dad, Kamau (11). Siobhan Ward, Primate Keeper at the zoo, said: “You know what they say about buses! To have two baby mandrills, born within weeks of each other, after more than 10 years, is just incredible. The two new arrivals will only spend a few months at their mums’ sides before gaining enough confidence to explore on their own with the rest of the group.
“Mum Brio was actually the last baby to be born at the zoo more than a decade ago and, as a first-time mum, she’s doing a wonderful job and has adapted to parenthood brilliantly. Both mums, Brio and Obi, will have the rest of the mandrill horde to help care for their new babies, as it’s a real group effort, but once they branch off and start to explore they’ll certainly be kept busy.”
Mandrills are listed as vulnerable on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of threatened species, with numbers in the wild having declined significantly in recent years. Primate experts say the biggest threat the species faces is habitat loss, as the forests they live in continue to be aggressively cut down for timber and agricultural use. Mandrills are also hunted for the bushmeat trade.