One of Belfast Zoo’s oldest residents has celebrated his 50th birthday.
Chimpanzee Lizzie was born at the zoo in 1972 to parents Josie and Tommy.
He currently shares a home with six other chimpanzees, including his daughters Kim and Lucy, as well as granddaughters Phoebe and Pixie.
Age-related health problems led to Lizzie having a stroke in her 40s and then again in 2020.
However, he has since surprised zoo keepers and vets with his recovery and regained full mobility.
In recognition of their dedicated work on Lizzie’s health, Belfast Zoo’s ape team received a 2021 British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (Biaza) Bronze Award for Ape Behavior and Welfare animals.
Senior goalkeeper Lara Clarke said: “For her exceptionally old age, Lizzie is a very vigorous old lady with a large and healthy appetite.
“She is the dominant female of the troop and is respected and loved by both her fellow chimpanzees and all the keeper staff.
“He is very sociable with visitors and will often be seen in the viewing window, interacting with the public.
“We are happy every day that she is with us and look forward to celebrating many more birthdays with her.”
Chimpanzees are an endangered species and face a high risk of extinction in the wild. According to the Jane Goodall Institute, there are now an estimated 340,000 chimpanzees, down from less than a million in 1900.
Zoo manager Alyn Cairns said: “Chimpanzee and all ape numbers are in serious decline due to habitat destruction, hunting and the illegal animal trade.
“Belfast Zoo is part of a collaborative breeding program and we play an important role in international chimpanzee conservation.
“These fascinating animals face an uncertain future, and without the support of conservation projects and zoos around the world, these animals could disappear forever.”
Lizzie celebrated her milestone birthday by unwrapping her presents with the rest of her troop.