Enjoy these new photos of a baby Western Lowland Gorilla spending quality time with her mom, Koola! The female baby Gorilla, born on November 4 at Chicago's Brookfield Zoo, can be seen with her mom during the zoo's remaining Holiday Magic days, December 30-31. (The Tropic World exhibit closes at 8 p.m.)
A newborn Gorilla weighs between 4 and 5 pounds at birth. As the baby grows, she will develop thicker hair and a white 'tail' tuft. The infant has a strong grip and will cling to Koola’s abdomen. At three months of age, zoo guests will be able to observe the baby riding on Koola’s back. About a month later, she will start to sample small pieces of food, however, nursing will continue until she is three to four years old. Also, at four months of age she will start to explore on her own, but will stay within arm’s reach of mom.
The newborn joins a family of four: her big sister Kamboo (9), father JoJo (33), and maternal grandmother, Binti (25), along with her mother Koola (18).
JoJo arrived at Brookfield Zoo from Lincoln Park Zoo in May 2012 based on a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Gorilla Species Survival Plan. A Species Survival Plan is a cooperative population management and conservation program for select species in accredited North American zoos and aquariums. Each plan manages the breeding of a species to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable. According to the Western Lowland Gorilla Species Survival Plan, JoJo is one of the most genetically valuable males in the zoo population. Currently, there are 342 Western Lowland Gorillas in 53 accredited North American zoos.
Gorillas live in social groups composed of one adult male, several adult females, juveniles, and infants. As they reach sexual maturity, both males and females typically leave the group in which they were born. They either establish a new group or join an existing one.
Western Lowland Gorillas are Critically Endangered due to habitat destruction, primarily from logging, disease such as the Ebola virus, the illegal pet trade, and poaching for bushmeat. It is not known how many Western Lowland Gorillas survive in their native West Africa (the forests of Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Nigeria, Congo, and Angola). Some recent estimates have been between 90,000 and 110,000 individuals, but new surveys are needed to determine whether or not this figure is exaggerated.
“We are extremely pleased that JoJo has successfully assumed the role as the silverback or leader of Brookfield Zoo’s gorilla group and has made a positive impact since his arrival,” said Stuart Strahl, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Chicago Zoological Society. “This infant represents an important contribution to the Gorilla population in North American zoos. We hope that when zoo guests see the infant and her family members they will be inspired to care for this Critically Endangered species.”