Allwetterzoo Münster recently welcomed the birth of a Western Lowland Gorilla. The Zoo’s Gorilla keepers arrived for work on December 7 and were greeted by mom, Changa-Maidi, holding her just born infant.
The birth was a surprise for keepers. "We did not expect [the birth], especially as various tests had found no pregnancy. The nurse did however wonder about a steady weight gain in Changa." Changa-Maidi’s last offspring was Demba, who will be four-years-old in January.
Zoo staff are currently keeping their distance and allowing mom to bond with her new baby. Once the sex of the infant is determined, a name will also be given.
Changa-Maidi was born in June 1996 at Frankfort Zoo, and she has been a resident of Münster Zoo since April of 2003. The new baby is her fourth birth. Her sons Thabo (born November 2007) and Demba (born January 2013) are also residents of Münster. The new baby’s father is 20-year-old N'Kwango, who has been at the Zoo since 2004.
The Zoo’s Gorilla troop also includes 15-year-old ShaSha and her three-year-old daughter, Jamila. ShaSha has been at the Zoo since September 2012. Her daughter Jamila was born in August 2013. N'Kwango is also the father of Jamila.
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.
The Western Lowland Gorilla is classified as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List. Population in the wild is faced with a number of factors that threaten it to extinction. Such factors include: deforestation, farming, grazing, and the expanding human settlements that cause forest loss. There is also said to be a correlation between human intervention in the wild and the destruction of habitats with an increase in bush meat hunting.