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Helsinki zoo welcomes two newborn Barbary apes

Some of the endangered apes at Korkeasaari Zoo were rescued from international illegal animal trade.

Berberiapinan poikanen.
Both female and male Barbary apes of all ages help to communally care for younger apes. Image: Annika Sorjonen / Korkeasaari

Two male Barbary apes - or Barbary macaques - were born at Helsinki's Korkeasaari Zoo this week. The first infant arrived on Tuesday while the second followed on Thursday.

The mothers and infants are in good condition and other apes have welcomed the newcomers, according to the zoo.

Male Barbary apes play an important but atypical role in rearing offspring. Both females and males of all ages help to communally care for younger apes.

Story continues after photo.

Berberiapinan poikanen.
One of two male Barbary apes born this week at Helsinki's Korkeasaari Zoo. Image: Annika Sorjonen / Korkeasaari

Zookeeper Merja Wahlroos has been caring for the apes at the zoo for years and said they were the first Barbary males to be born in Finland.

"The boys were highly anticipated as male apes help to rear young infants. Now they will be able to carry out their natural instincts. Caring for themselves as a group improves their interdependence and increases their well being. This is especially important because some of our apes are rescues that are not related to each other," Wahlroos said.

The species is extremely endangered and often victims of illegal animal trade. It is estimated that around 200 of the apes are smuggled into Europe annually, and some of the ones living at the Helsinki zoo came from a rescue centre in the Netherlands.

Before they left the rescue centre, the unrelated apes formed a family group while in the Netherlands and work to improve family dynamics has continued since they arrived to Korkeasaari. In their natural habitat the animals are found in the Atlas Mountain region of Algeria and Morocco.

Males of the species live to about 25 while females live to 30, and despite the commonly-used ape moniker, Barbary apes are actually monkeys.

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