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Edinburgh Zoo welcomes baby chimpanzee

Congratulations from Car Hire Edinburgh Airport on the latest arrival to be unveiled at the zoo.

The first chimpanzee in 15 years to be reared in Scotland is now on show at Edinburgh Zoo. The baby boy has been given the name Velu and is just eight weeks old. He is extra special as he is a pure Western chimpanzee, a subspecies of the common chimpanzee which is listed as an endangered species. He lives in the award winning Budongo Trail at Edinburgh Zoo with 18 other chimpanzees.

Sophie Pearson, Team Leader for the Budongo Trail at Edinburgh Zoo, said “We are delighted with the arrival and successful integration of Velu into our chimpanzee group. Still very young, Velu will look like a baby for another five years or so. He currently has a beautiful pale, pinky-coloured face which will darken as he gets older and has a mass of spiky hair. His father is either 38 year old Louis or 21 year old Rene, two of the males in our group.”

His mother, Heleen, is from a group of nine chimpanzees who arrived at Edinburgh Zoo from the Netherlands in 2010. The Dutch chimpanzees originally started life in a research laboratory, then were re-homed to Beekse Bergen Safari Park, before moving to Edinburgh to live in one of the world’s most innovative and interactive chimp enclosures.

Sophie added “After the birth, we slowly integrated Heleen and her baby back into the main chimpanzee group – starting first with other females and her closest male allies, then building up to them both going back into the main group. This has been successful to date and, although chimpanzee babies are always vulnerable, we are confident Heleen is fully integrated back into the group and has a lot of support from her chimp friends.”

Chimpanzees are found in the rainforests of West and Central Africa. The Budongo Trail enclosure at Edinburgh Zoo is representative of this habitat. It features three ‘pods’ which vary in degrees of temperature, light and humidity to reflect different conditions of their rainforest home in the wild. There is also an outdoor climbing and vegetation area which further stimulates the chimps to show natural physical, social and mental behaviours. All areas are connected by bridges and the chimpanzees can roam freely depending on their desired environment.