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The Prague Zoo received a very special Christmas present this year:  Western Lowland Gorilla Kijivu delivered a healthy baby boy on December 22, just a few months after another of her offspring died in a freak accident.

The baby’s delivery went smoothly with no problems, according to Prague Zoo staff.  Kijivu is an experienced mother, and this is her fourth baby with the zoo’s male Gorilla, Richard. 

In July, Kijivu’s second offspring, 5-year-old male Tatu, accidentally hanged himself with a climbing rope in the Gorilla enclosure.  This devastating event was called one of the worst tragedies in Prague Zoo’s history, and makes the new infant’s arrival even more significant for the zoo staff and the captive Gorilla population. 

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Western Lowland Gorillas are the most widespread of all Gorilla subspecies, inhabiting the dense rain forests of western and central Africa.  In some parts of their range, the population is decreasing by 5% each year as Gorillas are captured as pets or killed for bushmeat.  As timber and mining companies encroach on the area, valuable Gorilla habitat is destroyed.  The deadly Ebola virus is estimated to have killed up to one-third of wild Gorillas. 

Photo credit  Tomáš Adamec, Prague Zoo