The tiny Sumatran orangutan was delivered safely by mum Emma after an eight-and-a-half-month pregnancy.
Amazing film footage taken by the zoo captured precious early moments, showing the new arrival clinging on tightly to its mum.
The baby is major success story for the acclaimed international breeding programme for the highly threatened species.
Sumatran orangutans are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) with fewer than 6,500 estimated to be left in the wild, so every birth is important.
Nick Davis, Chester Zoo’s Deputy Curator of Mammals, said:
“It is very early days, but the baby looks very healthy and is bonding well with mum in these precious first few hours. It is wonderful to have a tiny new infant in our family of stunning Sumatran orangutans.
“It’s now important that this fantastic new arrival helps draw some much needed attention to the species. The Sumatran orangutan is under enormous pressure in the wild and, without urgent conservation work, it could tragically become the first great ape lost forever. We can’t allow that to happen.”
Sumatran orangutans are among the many species being pushed to the brink of extinction in South East Asia by, hunting, forest clearance and the planting of oil palm plantations, which are wiping out huge areas of rainforest.
There is intense demand for the oil, which features in thousands of household products in the UK from food to cleaning materials and cosmetics.
Mike Jordan, Chester Zoo’s Collections Director, added:
“Sumatran and Bornean orangutans are, sadly, at an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild as pressures grow on their fragile forest habitat. A successful and well managed conservation breeding programme may be critical to safeguarding the species in the future.
“Conservation is critical and we are right now fighting for these amazing animals in South East Asia – helping field workers in Borneo to restore depleted forests and supporting education work in schools and communities where the species occur.
“People can do their bit too. When shopping in the supermarket check labels to make sure products only contain sustainable palm oil. It sounds like a small thing but it can make a big, big difference.”
Chester Zoo is also leading the way on a major campaign to make Chester the world’s first ‘Sustainable Palm Oil City.’ Zoo conservationists are working with restaurants, cafes, hotels, fast food outlets, schools and workplaces in the city to introduce sustainable palm oil policies into their supply chain. The aim is to increase the use of palm oil that is produced sustainably and help to protect the rainforests and the wide range of species that live in them in South East Asia.