On July 16, Zoo Basel witnessed the arrival of another new Western Lowland Gorilla. It is the third birth for mom, Faddama, and it is the second offspring for dad, M'Tongé.
M'Tongé’s first child was born in May to mother, Joas, and was Zoo Basel’s first Gorilla birth in a decade.
New mom, Faddama (age 32), is already a great-grandmother. Her son, Viatu (age 17), resides in Frankfurt. He is not only a father of four but grandfather of two, as well.
Aside from Faddama and her new baby, the troop of Gorillas at Zoo Basel consists of: M'Tongé (age 16), Joas (26), Mobali (son of Joas and M'Tongé), Zungu (13), Goma (56), and Quarta (47). Quarta is the mother of Faddama, and she full-filled her ‘grand-motherly’ duties and stayed close by her daughter during the childbirth.
The sex of the new baby isn’t known yet, but once staff can examine the tiny Gorilla, a name will be given.
The Western Lowland Gorilla is native to the rainforests of western 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.