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Belfast Zoo Welcomes Surprise Baby Chimp
Belfast Zoo is celebrating the arrival of the first chimpanzee to be born at the zoo since 1997!
Credit: Belfast Zoo.

Northern Ireland's Belfast Zoo is celebrating the first chimpanzee to be born there since 1997.

Lucy, as the baby has been dubbed, was morn on March 17 to mother Lizzie and dad Andy. She is the zoo's seventh chimp.

"We had been looking forward to celebrating Lizzie’s 40th birthday this summer and it was a wonderful surprise, for the whole zoo team, when we discovered her pregnancy," said zoo curator Julie Mansell.  "She has been a wonderful mother in the past and this time is no exception."

Mansell said in a statement that the zoo's other chimps "are also excited about the new arrival and are paying Lizzie and Lucy extra attention."

Chimpanzees are at risk of becoming extinct in the wild, with populations declining by more than 66 percent in the last 30 years due to deforestation, hunting and other factors.

Zoos play a role in conservation efforts with breeding programs that help insure diverse genetic pools.