Belfast's Baby Gorilla Is a Girl!

(6)  Zoos are increasingly important in the conservation of species under threat.  Belfast Zoo takes part in a breeding programme for this species.
A critically endangered Western Lowland Gorilla born at the Belfast Zoo on August 28 is a girl! 

Because baby Gorillas cling to their mother’s belly for the first few months of life, keepers were unable to determine the baby’s gender until now.  The baby has been named Olivia.

(2)  The latest arrival was born to mother, Namoki, and father, Gugas, on 28 August 2016.
(5)  All ape species are endangered or critically endangered.  Gorillas are facing the real and severe risk of extinction in the
(3)  For the first months, the newborn clings to the mother's stomach.  Keepers recently discovered the infant is a female and she has been named Olivia.
(1)  Belfast Zoo is celebrating the birth of a critically endangered Western lowland gorilla!Photo Credit:  Belfast Zoo

Olivia’s arrival is significant because her father, Gugas, was born in the wild and his genetic background is important to the zoo population.  But Gugas had an unfortunate start to life as his parents were killed, probably for bushmeat.  As a young, orphaned Gorilla, he was acquired by a Portuguese circus and became very ill.  He was abandoned at the gates of Lisbon Zoo and was then moved to Stuttgart Zoo to live in a nursery group for orphaned Gorillas. He arrived at Belfast Zoo in 1998 and in 2012, with no sign of any pregnancies, the zoo tested Gugas’ fertility and the results were not promising.  In fact, it was felt that Gugas would never father any young. 

“Gugas has defied the odds.  In fact he has had an extremely busy few years, as this is the third infant that he has fathered since 2013,” says Julie Mansell of the Belfast Zoo. 

The Belfast Zoo’s Gorilla breeding program is part of a global effort to create a safety net population should this species become extinct in the wild – a very real possibility, given that Gorillas are under threat from habitat loss, the bushmeat trade, the pet trade, trophy hunting, and other human activity. 

Western Lowland Gorillas come from the dense forests of western central Africa.  Gorillas are the largest of all primate species.  They are listed as Critically Endangered, with the wild population shrinking by 80% within the past three generations.

BIOPARC Keepers Announce New Gorilla Is a Girl

1_OCTUBRE 2016 - BIOPARC Valencia - La gorila Nalani y su bebé de 7 semanas de vida (3)

BIOPARC Valencia is excited to announce that their newest Western Lowland Gorilla is a female! The birth of the baby on August 18 was witnessed, and filmed, by amazed Zoo patrons. (See our original article here: Zoo Guests Witness Gorilla Birth)

The new girl has become an important part of the Spanish zoo’s Gorilla troop. Mom, Nalani, and father, Mambie, are doing a fitting job caring for their new offspring.

From the beginning, keepers have worked to maximize the welfare of the mother and her baby. Unless necessary, the technical team of BIOPARC does not interfere in the natural development of breeding and, in this sense, mother and offspring have not been separated at any time. For this reason, only observation, patience and some luck, have finally allowed keepers to see and take a photo of the genital area of the new baby, and thus confirm that is a female.

2_OCTUBRE 2016 - BIOPARC Valencia - La gorila Nalani y su bebé y Ebo

3_BIOPARC VALENCIA - Grupo reproductor de gorilas - MAMBIE, NALANI su bebé y el pequeño EBO (2)Photo Credits: BIOPARC Valencia

The Western Lowland Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) is one of two subspecies of the Western Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla) that lives in montane, primary and secondary forests and lowland swamps in central Africa in Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. It is the Gorilla most common to zoos.

The main diet of the Gorilla species is roots, shoots, fruit, wild celery, tree bark and pulp, which are provided for in the thick forests of central and West Africa. An adult will eat around 18 kg (40 lb) of food per day. Gorillas will climb trees up to 15 meters in height in search of food.

Females do not produce many offspring, due to the fact that they do not reach sexual maturity until the age of 8 or 9. Female gorillas give birth to one infant after a pregnancy of nearly nine months. Unlike their powerful parents, newborns are tiny (weighing about four pounds) and able only to cling to their mothers' fur. The infant will ride on mother’s back from the age of four months through the first two or three years of life. Infants can be dependent on the mother for up to five years.

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‘It’s A Girl!’ for Philly Zoo’s Gorilla Troop


Philadelphia Zoo is pleased to announce that its newest addition, a Western Lowland Gorilla baby, born August 26th…is a girl! The infant and her mother, 22-year-old Honi, are doing well and are currently on exhibit with the rest of their troop in the Zoo’s PECO Primate Reserve.

Gorilla babies solely rely on their mother for care during the first months of life, so Honi is in constant contact with the infant, confidently cradling, cuddling and carrying her 24 hours a day. Dad Motuba is sticking close by to guard and protect the family, a role that male Gorillas typically play in the group dynamic.

The infant lives in PECO Primate Reserve with her mother, 31-year-old father Motuba and another female Gorilla 17-year-old Kira.

Viewing times for the baby may vary. Visitors may see the family on exhibit inside of PECO Primate Reserve, in their outdoor habitat, or traversing the Zoo360 trail system (a campus-wide network of see-through mesh trails that affords more opportunities for animals to roam around and above the Zoo grounds). “Honi is a big fan of Zoo360 and has already carried her baby into the elevated trails,” says Dr. Andy Baker the Zoo’s Chief Operating Officer.


3_WesternLowlandGorilla_Baby_09.07.16_4708Photo Credits: Philadelphia Zoo

Philadelphia Zoo recently enlisted the global community to help name the newborn, and they are using this opportunity to garner support for gorilla conservation. The Zoo partnered with the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education (GRACE) Center in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a sanctuary that rehabilitates highly endangered Grauer’s Gorillas (also called Eastern Lowland Gorillas) whose families were killed by poachers.

Online voters were allowed to choose from a list of names honoring orphaned Gorillas being cared for by GRACE. Voters were asked to donate a minimum of $1.00 (with no maximum) per vote, with all of the proceeds benefitting GRACE’s Gorilla welfare and conservation work in DRC. The Philadelphia Zoo is also matching the donations, dollar-for-dollar, up to $10,000. Voting closed September 29th, and the Zoo plans to announce the winning name next week, via social media.

“We are thrilled to partner with Philadelphia Zoo on this naming campaign and thank them for supporting our efforts with Grauer’s Gorillas in DRC,” says Dr. Sonya Kahlenberg, GRACE Executive Director. “Over the past 20 years, Grauer’s Gorillas have experienced a catastrophic decline of nearly 80%, and if nothing is done, they could be the first great ape to become extinct in the wild. The Zoo’s support will help us give orphan Gorillas a second chance and will boost our work with local communities on conservation education and other programs critical for safeguarding wild Gorillas and their habitat.”

Kim Lengel, the Philadelphia Zoo’s VP for Conservation and Education, said, “We are pleased to support and partner with GRACE. The long-term survival of Gorillas in the wild will require the on-grounds efforts of organizations like GRACE as well as awareness, support and engagement of ‘local action/ global consequences’ on issues like climate change and deforestation-free palm oil, both of which impact Gorillas in parts of their native habitat. We hope that naming Honi’s new baby after an orphaned Gorilla at GRACE, and inviting our global community to select the name, will help make that connection and engage many in the efforts to save Gorillas and other wildlife.”

Both Western Lowland and Grauer’s Gorillas are listed as “Critically Endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Threats include: poaching, habitat destruction, illegal pet trafficking, and disease.

Grauer’s Gorillas are recognized as one of the 25 most endangered primates in the world by IUCN’s Primate Specialist Group ‘Conservation International’ and the International Primatological Society.

Philadelphia Zoo empowers guests to become great ape heroes by encouraging them to join the Zoo to save these majestic animals. Please find more information at this link: http://www.philadelphiazoo.org/Save-Wildlife/UNLESS-Campaign/UNLESS-Project/Send-a-Message.htm

Zoo Guests Witness Gorilla Birth

Visitors to Spain’s BIOPARC Valencia got the rare opportunity to witness the birth of a baby Gorilla on August 18.

With the entire Gorilla troop and numerous zoo guests looking on, female Gorilla Nalani calmly delivered her baby, consumed the placenta, and gently cleaned her newborn.  Several guests filmed the event and posted the footage on YouTube.

Gorila recién nacido en BIOPARC Valencia - 17 agosto 2016 (6)
Gorila recién nacido en BIOPARC Valencia - 17 agosto 2016 (7)Photo Credit:  BIOPARC Valencia
The baby’s umbilical cord remains attached to its navel, and will remain there until it naturally dries up and falls off. 

Despite this being Nalani’s first baby, she did all the right things with her newborn.  She had witnessed other births in the Gorilla troop and most likely learned from those experiences. 

The zoo staff had chosen to allow the birth to occur without intervention, and the Gorillas now have free access to both indoor and outdoor shelters.  Keepers will continue to monitor the group closely and provide the best conditions for the health of the mother and baby.

Births like this are managed by the European breeding program to maintain the highest level of genetic diversity in rare zoo animals.  Gorillas are listed as Endangered due to poaching, human disturbance, invasive exotic species, human-wildlife disease transmission, timber extraction, and mining.

See more photos of mom and baby below.

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Gorilla Birth at Denver Zoo Is a Very ‘Good Thing’


Denver Zoo is celebrating the birth of a critically endangered Western Lowland Gorilla. The female, named Whimsie Adepa (ah-DEEP-ah), was born to mother Tinga (TIN-gah), and father, Jim, just before midnight on February 25. She is the first birth of her species at the Zoo in 11 years and the fifth ever in the Zoo’s history. The second part of her name, Adepa, translates to “good thing” in the Akan (AH-khan) language of Ghana. Guests can see her now at the Zoo’s Great Apes building.



4_gorilla_baby-Whimsie_02Photo Credits: Denver Zoo


This is Tinga’s first offspring, but zookeepers say she’s quickly learning her new role as a mother. She is with Whimsie Adepa at all times, vocalizes to her and pats her back to soothe her. Jim is now a second-time father, after his daughter, Jabali, was born in 2004. Zookeepers say he is noticeably protective and gentle.

Tinga, herself, was the last birth of her species at Denver Zoo, in May 2005. She was born while her troop, from Los Angeles Zoo, stayed at Denver Zoo during the construction of their new habitat. She returned to Denver Zoo in November 2014. Jim was born at Los Angeles Zoo in August 1987 and came to Denver Zoo in April 2003. The two were paired under recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals. Fortunately, the couple has proven to be an excellent match.

Western Lowland Gorillas live in the lowlands, swamps and forests of western central Africa. They can grow to four to five and a half feet tall. Adult males can weigh up to 500 pounds, while females are significantly smaller and can weigh up to 300 pounds. Their fur is predominantly black with a brownish tinge and a reddish-brown cap on top of the head.

They are social animals and live in family groups, called troops, consisting of an adult silverback male, several adult females, and their offspring. Family groups may number from 2 up to 35 individuals but usually consist of five to 10 animals. The adult male and females usually stay together for life while the young leave when they reach maturity.

Wild populations of the species are difficult to estimate due to the dense forests and constant movement of family groups, but there are believed to be only 112,000 Western Lowland Gorillas and the number is declining. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies them as “Critically Endangered”. Their greatest threats come from habitat loss because of logging and agriculture, but recently, the hunting of primates, including gorillas, for the growing bush meat trade has further threatened their survival.

Help Name Woodland Park Zoo’s Gorilla Baby


This past December, ZooBorns introduced our fans to a lovely female Western Lowland Gorilla that was born November 20, 2015 at Woodland Park Zoo, in Seattle, Washington.

(See the original article: "Woodland Park Zoo's Gorilla Baby Needs Hands-On Care".)

Now, the Zoo is seeking your help in naming its new baby. The winner of their naming contest will receive a variety of great gifts from the Zoo, including a chance to visit the sweet girl up-close!

To enter, participants must choose a female name from the African languages of Hausa, Yoruba or Igbo, and submit an entry form via mail, online at www.zoo.org/babygorilla or by dropping it off at any ballot box located on Woodland Park Zoo grounds between Tuesday, February 16, and Monday, February 29, 2016.

One winner will be selected by a judging panel of Zoo staff to take home the Grand Prize:

One 1-year annual Woodland Park Zoo membership for one family

One ZooParent Gorilla adoption

One opportunity to join a Gorilla staff member for a private meet and greet for up to five people at the public viewpoint of the Gorilla exhibit once the baby is on view (arranged at a mutually agreeable time)

One framed photograph of the newly-named Gorilla infant

(For official rules and terms of participation or to submit an entry online, visit www.zoo.org/babygorilla.)



4_12301644_10153732087917708_9054078194204293205_nPhoto Credits: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo


The baby Western Lowland Gorilla was born on November 20 to mom Nadiri and dad Vip. “Nadiri is a first-time, inexperienced mom,” said Martin Ramirez, mammal curator at Woodland Park Zoo. “Knowing that, we planned for different outcomes while she was pregnant, including the need for human intervention.”

Nadiri gave birth naturally but did not show strong maternal skills initially; as a result, staff immediately stepped in for the safety and welfare of the baby and to allow the new mom to rest. Since her birth, the zoo’s Gorilla and veterinary staff have been providing 24/7 care for the unnamed baby Gorilla, behind the scenes in the Gorillas’ sleeping quarters, in a den next to Nadiri.

Multiple times a day, the mom and baby Gorilla spend time together in the same den. “During recent sessions, the two have lain just inches apart, played and eaten together. The close proximity is a good sign they’re comfortable together and getting to know each other,” said Ramirez.

The baby Gorilla remains off view, where she is growing and thriving. “She’s developing normally; introductions are progressing slowly but steady,” said Ramirez. Currently, there is no time frame for when the baby will be on exhibit.

In the meantime, zoo staff are excited to officially give the baby a name. “As an ambassador for her species, an authentic regional name helps share the story of her counterparts in the wild,” said Ramirez.

Continue reading "Help Name Woodland Park Zoo’s Gorilla Baby" »

First Western Lowland Gorilla Birth for Fort Worth Zoo

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The Fort Worth Zoo, in Texas, proudly announced their first-ever Western Lowland Gorilla birth. The male primate was born on Saturday, Dec. 5 to first-time parents Gracie and Elmo.

The yet-to-be-named ape is staying close to his mother as he gets acclimated to his surroundings in the Zoo’s World of Primates exhibit. He will be viewable in indoor or outdoor exhibits, at various times during the day, which will be dictated by weather conditions and his activity level.

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4_Photo 2Photo Credits: Jeremy Enlow / Fort Worth Zoo

 The Fort Worth Zoo is the only zoo in the nation to house representatives of all four great ape species: Gorillas, Orangutans, Chimpanzees and Bonobos.

The Western Lowland Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) is one of two subspecies of the Western Gorilla that lives in montane, primary, and secondary forests and lowland swamps in central Africa in Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

Females don’t reach sexual maturity until the age of 8 or 9. Gestation is about 9 months and newborns typically weigh about four pounds. Infants ride on their mothers’ backs from the age of four months to two or three years of age. Infants remain dependent on the mother for up to five years.

Western Lowland Gorillas are listed as “Critically Endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to hunting and disease. Gorillas also have an alarmingly low reproductive rate (at an observed rate of 3 percent population increase), so even if there was a drastic decline in hunting and disease, it could take at least 75 years for population recovery to occur in optimistic scenarios. The Fort Worth Zoo participates in a cooperative breeding program for Gorillas that maintains a healthy, self-sustaining population of vulnerable animals to help prevent their extinction.


Woodland Park Zoo’s Gorilla Baby Needs Hands-On Care

1_15_12_2 Gorilla Baby JDL-5

Attempts to introduce a first-time mother Gorilla to her new baby continue every day at Woodland Park Zoo, in Seattle, Washington. For the next three months, the Zoo will keep providing hands-on care for the newborn female Gorilla before evaluating next steps.

The unnamed baby Western Lowland Gorilla was born November 20 to 19-year-old Nadiri (NAW-duh-ree).

After giving birth naturally, Nadiri did not pick up her baby and, instead, walked away. Staff immediately stepped in for the safety and welfare of the baby and to allow the new mom to rest.

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3_15_12_2 Gorilla Baby JDL-2

4_15_12_2 Gorilla Baby JDL-3Photo Credits: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/ Woodland Park Zoo

Because Nadiri does not have experience with motherhood, the Zoo prepared for different eventualities while Nadiri was pregnant, including human intervention.

The Woodland Park Zoo’s Gorilla and veterinary staff are providing 24/7 care for the baby, behind the scenes, in the Gorillas’ sleeping quarters in a den next to Nadiri. Here, the mom and the other two members in her group can see the baby; and the baby is immersed in the sights, sounds and smells of Gorillas.

“The baby is strong and healthy, and has a hearty appetite,” said Harmony Frazier, Woodland Park Zoo’s senior veterinary technician and an animal infant specialist. “We bottle feed her human infant formula on demand so she’s eating every couple of hours. She’s steadily gaining weight and currently weighs 5.8 pounds, a healthy weight for a 2-week-old Gorilla [as of December 3],” said Frazier.

“The best outcome for the baby Gorilla is to have her mom raise her, so, several times a day Nadiri is given access to her baby,” said Martin Ramirez, Woodland Park Zoo’s mammal curator. “Nadiri consistently enters the den for each introduction session. While she still hasn’t picked up her baby, she remains next to her. When the baby cries, she sometimes touches her in a calming manner. When Nadiri is in her own den, she watches her baby and grunts contentedly,” explained Ramirez. “It isn’t strong maternal behavior yet, but we’re encouraged by these positive sessions and gestures of interest.”

The zoo closely monitors and evaluates each introduction session. “As long as the sessions remain positive, we’ll keep moving forward with providing opportunities for Nadiri and her baby to bond. If Nadiri shows any inappropriate behaviors, we will discontinue the sessions and assess other options,” added Ramirez.

After the holidays, the Zoo has plans to name the baby Gorilla.

Continue reading "Woodland Park Zoo’s Gorilla Baby Needs Hands-On Care" »

Endangered Gorilla Born at Brookfield Zoo


The Chicago Zoological Society, which operates Brookfield Zoo, is happy to announce the birth of a male Western Lowland Gorilla to 11-year-old Kamba, on September 23. Kamba has grown up in a strong, stable family group at Brookfield Zoo, where she has gained the social experience and confidence she needs to be a good mother.



4_DSC_1991Photo Credits: Jim Schulz/Chicago Zoological Society

Kamba and her infant, named Zachary, can be seen in the zoo’s Tropic World: Africa habitat along with Koola (Kamba’s mother), age 20; Nora (Koola’s second daughter), almost 2; Binti Jua (Koola’s mother), 27; and JoJo (the infant’s sire), 35. This birth marks four generations of Western Lowland Gorillas currently in the group at Brookfield Zoo.

The pairing of the adult female gorillas at Brookfield Zoo, including Kamba, with JoJo, who arrived in 2012 from Lincoln Park Zoo, is based on a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Western Lowland 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. Currently, 339 Western Lowland Gorillas live in 48 accredited North American zoos.

JoJo is one of the most genetically valuable males in the Western Lowland Gorilla SSP population and is an especially good match for the adult females at Brookfield Zoo. “Having JoJo come here has been a great success story and demonstrates the collaboration among the zoo community to effectively care for this critically endangered species,” said Craig Demitros, associate curator of primates for the Society. JoJo has a calm disposition. He was very playful with his offspring at Lincoln Park Zoo and he has shown the same interaction with Nora at Brookfield Zoo. “We anticipate he will continue to be playful with Kamba’s infant as it gets older,” added Demitros.

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Meet the 50th Gorilla Born at Cincinnati Zoo

A female Gorilla born at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden on August 25 is extra special – she is the 50th Gorilla to be born at the zoo, and her name reflects her unique status.  

Photo Credit:  Jeff McCurry
The baby will be called Elle after zoo keepers submitted two names for an online vote.   The name Elle grabbed two-thirds of the 2,500 votes.

“It is a very rare thing for any zoo to have 50 babies born and we wanted that to be recognized in the baby’s name,” said Ron Evans, Curator of Primates at the Cincinnati Zoo.  

The letter L is the Roman numeral for 50. Elle, which is how the name will be spelled, means girl.  The keepers thought that the name was fitting, and voters agreed.  Goldie, suggested because gold is representative of 50, was the other choice.

There are about 765 Gorillas in zoos worldwide including approximately 360 in the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Program (SSP) for this species. Western Lowland Gorillas are critically endangered in the wild, with less than 175,000 individuals remaining. Due primarily to habitat destruction caused by logging, mineral mining and agricultural expansion, wild Gorilla numbers continue to shrink.  The bushmeat trade – the killing of wild animals to be used as human food – is also a major threat to the western lowland Gorilla population throughout the Central African rainforests.  Over 1,000 Gorillas are illegally poached for the bushmeat trade each year. 

See more photos of Elle below.

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