A baby gorilla has been born at Bristol Zoo Gardens, the second in less than six months.
The tiny western lowland gorilla arrived in the early hours of December 22 in the Gorilla House at the heart of the Zoo.
Mum Touni gave birth naturally to the infant, with dad, Jock, and the rest of the family troop nearby. Keepers arrived in the morning to find the little gorilla being cradled in its mother’s arms.
It is 13-year-old Touni’s second baby. In April 2017 she gave birth to Ayana, who still lives at the Zoo.
The new infant was born just four months after another gorilla, ten-year-old Kala, gave birth to Hasani – currently being hand-reared by keepers after Kala struggled to care for him.
Nigel Simpson, Bristol Zoological Society’s Head of Animal Collections, said: “It is simply wonderful to see a new-born gorilla, they are so charismatic and such an iconic species.”
The birth is also important in helping to safeguard the future of western lowland gorillas, which are Critically Endangered in the wild.
Nigel said: “Touni is an excellent mother and she is taking very good care of her baby. All the early signs are positive and the baby looks to be strong and healthy. We will be keeping a very close eye on both mother and baby as these early days are so important.
“This is also great news for Bristol Zoological Society, which operates both Bristol Zoo Gardens and Wild Place Project, as we are part of an internationally important breeding and conservation programme.”
The new gorilla joins the troop of seven others at the Zoo, which are part of a breeding programme to help safeguard the future of western lowland gorillas.
One of Bristol Zoological Society’s flagship conservation projects focuses on western lowland gorillas in Monte Alén National Park, Equatorial Guinea. This area is highlighted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as critically important for the conservation of the species.
For more than 20 years the Society has also supported a sanctuary in Cameroon which helps look after orphaned gorillas and chimpanzees.
Gorillas are hunted for their meat and their young are regularly taken and sold as pets, often only to end up abandoned or dying of starvation.
Visitors to the Zoo should be able to see the new gorilla as they pass through the Gorilla House or look onto the Gorilla Island outside.
Bristol Zoo Gardens is owned and run by Bristol Zoological Society, which also operates Wild Place Project. It is a conservation and education charity and relies on the generous support of the public not only to fund its important work at Bristol Zoo and Wild Place, but also its vital conservation and research projects across four continents.
In March the Society launched an appeal to ensure the future of its work ‘saving wildlife together’. The Society, which is a registered charity, launched the BZS Appeal following the temporary closure of both its sites in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.
To find out more, or to make a donation, visit https://bristolzoo.org.uk/bzsappeal.
Visitors to Bristol Zoo Gardens are recommended to book online in advance https://bristolzoo.org.uk/online-booking.