‘IT’S A GIRL’ for Gugas and Kamili!

(5)  This is the second arrival at the gorilla house in eight months as Baako, the first baby gorilla to be born at the zoo in 16 years, was born on 3 August 2013.

Belfast Zoo recently announced the news that Kamili, the Western Lowland Gorilla, welcomed a little bundle of joy on Sunday 30 March 2014. During the early weeks newborn gorillas cling to the mother’s stomach and Kamili was so protective that it was impossible for keepers to find out what sex the infant was.

After weeks of patiently waiting, the zoo can now announce that the infant is a girl and, after much consideration, she has been named ‘Kibibi’ which means ‘little lady’ in Swahili.

(3)  Kamili and Kibibi are western lowland gorillas.  Gorilla populations have declined by more than 50% in recent decades and zoos are becoming more vital in the conservation of this iconic species.

(2)  During the early weeks newborn gorillas cling to the mother’s stomach and Kamili was so protective that it was impossible for keepers to find out what gender the infant was.


Zoo curator, Julie Mansell, is delighted to announce the news, “Kibibi is the second arrival within the last year for dad, Gugas, and she is the first girl! In 2012, with no sign of pregnancies, we tested Gugas’ fertility and the results were not promising. In fact, we feared that Gugas would never father any young. We are delighted that he has proven us all wrong with the arrival of Kibibi and Baako in the last year.”

Julie continues, “All apes are endangered or critically endangered and some professionals have even predicted that all species of ape will be extinct within 30 years. Gorilla populations have declined by more than 50% in recent decades and our role, as a zoo, in their conservation is becoming more and more vital.”

Baby Gorilla Born by Rare C-Section at San Diego Zoo

A baby Gorilla born by emergency C-Section at the San Diego Zoo on March 12 is recovering from pneumonia and a collapsed lung, but zoo officials are optimistic about her future.

BabyGirlGorilla2_webPhoto Credit: Tammy Spratt 

When 18-year-old female Gorilla Imani showed no signs of progress during labor, zoo veterinarians performed an emergency C-section, a very rare procedure among Gorillas.

The full-term baby Gorilla weighed 4.6 pounds and was delivered by a team of San Diego Zoo Global staff and outside consultants, including a veterinary surgeon and human neonatal specialists from UCSD Medical Center. 

By the time the baby was eight days old, she was strong enough to breathe on her own without supplemental oxygen.  Veterinary staff were able to start giving the Gorilla bottles with an infant formula, which the baby Gorilla quickly gulped down.

“The baby Gorilla is in critical care, but we’re optimistic she will have a full recovery,” said Nadine Lamberski, associate director of veterinary services.

The baby, who has not yet been named, is the first for Imani and the 17th Gorilla to be born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Zoo officials said Imani is recovering well from her surgery.

See more photos of the baby below.

Continue reading "Baby Gorilla Born by Rare C-Section at San Diego Zoo" »

UPDATE! Gorilla Baby Baako Bonds with the Family

2 gorilla

Back in September, we shared the news that Belfast Zoo in Ireland welcomed a baby Western Lowland Gorilla on August 3. The baby, a male, is the first gorilla to be born at the zoo in 16 years, and staff were extra surprised because mom, Kwanzaa, was believed to be infertile. (See our first post here.)

Now that baby Baako is six months old, the zoo team are delighted with his progress and the whole gorilla group including the father, Gugas, are going gaga over the youngster. 

1 gorilla

3 gorilla

Photo credit: Belfast Zoo

See a video of the baby and his group:


Zoo Curator Julie Mansell said, “We knew that Kwanza was pregnant last year but we were also aware that she was a first-time mum, which comes with its own set of risks.  However, Kwanza has become a super mother and Baako is absolutely thriving.  For the first few months Kwanza cradled the newborn on her stomach but Baako is gaining confidence and is beginning to climb on her back and is also beginning to bond with the rest of the gorilla group, including father Gugas, Kamili and Delilah.”

Kamili the Western Lowland Gorilla is also expecting her own little miracle in spring 2014.  She has been getting plenty of practice in with baby Baako and is showing natural mothering instincts.

The Western Lowland Gorilla is a Critically Endangered species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened species. Main threats are habitat loss, poaching, and the Ebola virus. You can support the care of Belfast Zoo’s gorillas by taking part in the zoo's adoption program. Learn more about making a donation here.

Baby Gorilla Bonds with Mom at Brookfield Zoo

1 gorilla

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). 

2 gorilla

3 gorilla

4 gorillaPhoto credit: Jim Schulz/Chicago Zoological Society

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.” 

A Little Miracle Arrives at Belfast Zoo's Gorilla House

(3)  The latest arrival is a male and was born to mother, Kwanza, and father, Gugas, on 3 August 2013.
The first Western Lowland Gorilla born at the Belfast Zoo in 16 years is being called a “little miracle” because his father was thought to be infertile.

The male baby was born to mother Kwanza and father Gugas on August 3.  Through an online voting contest, fans named the baby “Baako,” which means “first-born child.”   He is thriving in the zoo’s Gorilla habitat.

(2)  You can help the zoo name their latest arrival by voting for your favourite name at www.belfastzoo.co.uk
(1)  On 3 August 2013, Belfast Zoo welcomed the first gorilla to be born at the zoo in 16 years!
Photo Credit:  Belfast Zoo

Because Gugas was born in the wild, he is genetically important to the European Gorilla breeding program.   Zoo Curator Julie Mansell explains, “Because Gugas is so important, last year we decided to test his fertility. The results were less than promising and it was suspected that Gugas would never father any infants. You can therefore imagine the entire team’s delight when we discovered that Kwanza was pregnant with her little miracle!”

Gugas had an unfortunate start to life when his parents were killed, most likely victims of poaching for bushmeat.  After being acquired and later abandoned by a circus, Gugas finally arrived at Belfast Zoo in 1998 where he joined a social group.

Western Lowland Gorillas are listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.   They inhabit forests and swamps in western central Africa.  Though they are the most numerous subspecies of Gorilla, Western Lowland Gorillas are threatened by poaching and habitat loss, as well as a significant threat from the Ebola virus, which is an extremely virulent pathogen affecting humans and nonhuman primates such as Gorillas.

See more photos of Baako below the fold.

Continue reading "A Little Miracle Arrives at Belfast Zoo's Gorilla House" »

Buffalo Zoo Welcomes Baby Gorilla

The Buffalo Zoo is celebrating the birth of a baby Western Lowland Gorilla! 

The baby was born on Wednesday, September 4 to first-time mother Lily, age 12 and father, Koga, age 26. Lily has displayed strong maternal instincts and is taking great care of the troop’s latest addition. Keepers have not been able to get close enough to the baby to determine its gender, though they believe it is a girl. Both mother and baby are doing well. 


Photo Credit:  Kelly Brown

During Lily’s pregnancy, the keeper staff was able to monitor the baby’s growth using ultrasound technology. Lily had been trained to present her abdomen to keepers and remain calm during the ultrasound process, so she did not need to be anesthetized in order to obtain images of the fetus. The measurement of the baby in utero is important to the study and husbandry of Gorillas. 

The gestation period of Gorillas is eight and a half months. Gorillas begin walking when they are between three and six months of age, and are weaned around three years of age. Western Lowland Gorillas are found in the lowland tropical forests of central Africa. The species is Critically Endangered due to loss of habitat as well as the bush meat trade.

UPDATE! Columbus Zoo Baby Gorilla Gets Name

G smile

The baby Gorilla born on May 23 at the Columbus Zoo now has a name! He is called Kamoli (pronounced Kam-aw-lee) and he looks pretty happy about that! Since first-time mom Kambera didn't seem to be a natural at mothering skills, the zoo's animal care experts have been raising him, providing the around-the-clock care and nurturing that he needed to grow and become healthy and strong. His keepers spend quite a bit of time near Kambera with the hope of being able to reunite Kamoli with her in the near future. Stay tuned.


Photo Credit: Grahm S. Jones, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

The baby continues to thrive and now you can see him in action in the video below: 

ZooBorns first covered the story of his birth HERE on June 10, where you can see his early pictures and learn more. See more pictures of baby Kamoli after the fold:

Continue reading "UPDATE! Columbus Zoo Baby Gorilla Gets Name" »

Rare Gorilla Twins Surprise Staff at Burgers' Zoo


When zoo keepers entered the Gorilla House at the Netherlands’ Burgers' Zoo on June 13, they were taken by surprise:  N’Gayla, the 20-year-old female Gorilla, had delivered twin babies overnight!



Photo Credit:  Burgers Zoo

Keepers knew that N’Gayla was pregnant, but they were not expecting her to deliver until later in the summer, and they were certainly not expecting twins.  Gorillas normally have just one baby at a time.  Twins in Gorillas are much rarer than in humans. 

Surprised keeper Wilco Limpers explained what he saw that morning.  “At first I did not expect to see twins.  I was watching N’Gayla lick her baby clean, and suddenly she grabbed something from within the straw bedding – another baby Gorilla! I really did not know what I saw.  Gorilla twins are seen only once or twice every ten years in European zoos.”

Baby Gorillas are small and helpless, requiring round-the-clock care from their mothers.  Though N’Gayla has her hands full, she is an experienced mother who has already raised three youngsters successfully.  The twins’ father, 23-year-old Bauwi, will play only a minor role in their care.

See more photos of the twins below the fold.

Continue reading "Rare Gorilla Twins Surprise Staff at Burgers' Zoo" »

Boy oh Boy! Baby Gorilla Born at Columbus Zoo

Gor mouth

There's a lot of excitement at Ohio's Columbus Zoo over a brand new baby Gorilla, born on May 23, to Gorilla parents Kambera and  Oliver. The little one arrived at  at 3:22 a.m., weighing 5 pounds, a healthy weight for a newborn Gorilla. And it's a boy!

Kambera, being a first-time mom, displayed a lack of maternal skills, so the zoo's animal care experts are raising him in an environment that provides around-the-clock care and nurturing. They spend a significant amount of time close to Kambera with the hope of being able to reunite the baby with her in the near future. The baby has clearly done very well and is bright-eyed, healthy and energetic. Visitors can now see him daily from noon to 3 p.m. in the indoor Gorilla yard.

Gor 3

Gor 2

Photo Credit: Columbus Zoo

Gorillas live in moist tropical forests, or along the edge of forests, near clearings with an abundance of low, edible vegetation. Mountain gorillas range up into cloud forests.

Female gorillas reach maturity at seven or eight years old, but they usually don't breed until they reach ten plus years. Wild males tend to not breed before they are 15 years old, because there is greater competition between males to get with females.  Gestation is close to human timing, taking about about eight and a half months, usually resulting in one baby. Babies can begin to walk around within three to six months, but take up until about three years old to be fully weaned. Zoo Gorillas may reach sexual maturity earlier, and have babies more often than they do in the wild.

Gorillas also tend to live much longer in zoos -- up to their mid-fifties compared to the mid-thirties in the wild. Western Lowland and Cross River Gorillas are listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Eastern Lowland and Mountain Gorillas are listed as Endangered on the Red List.


Gladys Goes Outside! Baby Gorilla and Her Human Surrogate Made Public Debut

G snack

The Cincinnati Zoo's 3-month-old Western Lowland Gorilla named Gladys made her public debut in the outdoor yard on April 30. Over the next month, Gladys will be doing this with her human surrogates as part of Phase III of her “gorillification.” The surrogates will allow her to explore all areas of the outdoor yard, climb trees and duck into caves. Besides being enriching, this process will ensure Gladys is familiar with the yard and comfortable when she goes out again with her gorilla surrogate in the future.

Gladys was born at the Gladys Porter Zoo on January 29. The mother, 14 -year-old Kiazi, didn't respond well to the infant and ultimately rejected her. This behavior, which occasionally happens in first-time mothers, resulted in keepers from the Gladys Porter Zoo stepping in to hand-rear the infant until they had a plan in place. Unfortunately, all of the viable surrogates there already had young gorillas, so they began to look elsewhere.  After countless phone calls with the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Ape Taxon Advisory Group (TAG) Maternal Management Committee and the Western Lowland Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP) Committee, the Cincinnati Zoo was determined to be the best home for the baby. Gladys is currently being hand raised by a group of approximately 10 human surrogates, until she can transition to a gorilla surrogate in the coming months.

G clings

G plays

G portrait

Photo Credit: Cincinnati Zoo

Western Lowland Gorillas are Critically Endangered, with less than 175,000 individuals in the wild. 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 picturess of Gladys and her surrogates on their first outing below the fold:

Continue reading "Gladys Goes Outside! Baby Gorilla and Her Human Surrogate Made Public Debut" »