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.
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.