It has been ten years since Zoo Basel has been able to share news of a Western Lowland Gorilla birth, but the day is finally here. On May 19, gorilla mom, Joas, and father, M’Tonge, welcomed their newborn at the Swiss zoo.
The newest addition to Zoo Basel’s gorilla group has caused plenty of excitement among the other members. The baby is doing well, and mom, Joas, is content to bond with and care for her newborn.
The newborn was welcomed, not only, by his 26 year-old mother and 16 year- old dad, but also the rest of the gorilla troop: Faddama, Quarta, Zungu, and Goma.
Gorillas are ground dwelling, predominately herbivorous apes that are native to the forests of central Africa.
Gorillas live in groups called troops. Troops tend to be made of one adult male (or silverback) and multiple adult females and their offspring. A silverback is typically a male that is more than 12 years of age.
Females mature at 10-12 years (earlier in captivity) and males at 11-13 years. Female Gorillas mate and give birth in, typically, four-year intervals. Gestation lasts about 8.5 months. Infants are entirely dependent on their mothers. Male Gorillas are not active in caring for the young, but they do play a role in socializing them to other youngsters and work to shield them from aggression within the group. Infants suckle at least once per hour and sleep with their mothers in the same nest.
Infants begin to break contact with their mothers after five months but only for brief periods of time. By 12 months, infants move up to 16 feet from their mothers. At around 18-21 months, the distance between mother and offspring increases and they regularly spend time away from each other. They enter their juvenile period at their third year, and by the sixth year, they begin to sleep in a separate nest from mother.
The Western Gorilla, and its subspecies, is classified as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The Mountain Gorilla is also listed as “Critically Endangered”, while the Eastern Gorilla is currently classified as “Endangered”.
Major threats to gorilla survival include habitat destruction and poaching for bushmeat trade. It is also believed that several thousand gorillas, in the Republic of Congo, died from Ebola during the outbreak in 2004.
More pics, below the fold!