On Father's Day -- June 19 -- after months of anticipation, a tiny Western Lowland Gorilla was born to mom Kumbuka, 14-year old, at Zoo Miami in Florida.
Because the mother is so protective, zoo keepers don’t want to disturb the first critical days of bonding and nursing between her and her newborn, so the baby's gender and weight has not yet been determined.. The infant has been observed nursing and appears healthy. Once the staff can safely separate mother and infant, the veterinary staff will perform a neonatal exam.
Kumbuka first arrived at Zoo Miami in 2007 from the Pittsburgh Zoo in hopes of breeding. This is her second infant; she lost her first baby but hopes are high for this newcomer. The new infant is currently on exhibit with the rest of the gorilla family, including the father, 32-year-old JJ, who has sired 4 offspring.
Gorillas have no specific breeding season. Females bear offspring every 3½ to 5 years and have a gestation period of approximately 8 ½ months. Gorilla babies weigh 2 to 5 pounds at birth and are weaned at around 8 months. By 2½ years, they can travel under their own power fast enough to keep up with the adults. Females reach sexual maturity at 6 to 7 years and males at 9 to 10 years.
The gorilla is the largest living ape and is found in the lowlands and mountains of western equatorial Africa to central and eastern Africa, depending on the sub-species. Commonly known as the “gentle giant”, there are probably less than 10,000 of these majestic animals in the wild today. They are also a focus of the Zoo’s participation in the Species Survival Plan, (SSP) in which North American zoos collaborate to encourage the development of a self-sustaining zoo gorilla population, helping to ensure the survival of this endangered species. Each SSP manages the breeding of a species in order to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable.