Gorilla

Baby Gorilla Bonds with Surrogate Mom

Exploring her home

The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens has introduced Gondai, a Western Lowland Gorilla infant born on September 28, to a surrogate mother, 30-year old Bulera. While surrogacy was “Plan B” for the Gorilla care team, hoping instead that Gandai’s biological mother Kumbuka would be willing and able to care for the infant, the pairing with Gandai and Bulera is a joyful occasion and the two Gorillas are bonding well.

Bulera and Gandai - Lynded Nunn
Happy girlPhoto Credit: Jacksonville Zoo and Garden (1,3), Lynded Nunn (2), John Reed Photography (4,5,6)

Keepers at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens intervened after Gandai’s birth when Kumbuka was observed incorrectly positioning the infant. The team has provided around-the-clock care for five months with the goal of introducing her to the troop as soon as it would be safe to do so. Kumbuka and the rest of the Gorillas were in close contact with the infant throughout the assisted-rearing process to reinforce their bonds. Bulera showed strong interest in Gandai from the beginning.

On the morning of February 26, Gandai was placed on a soft pile of hay in a large family room in the Gorilla building. Kumbuka was given access to the room and allowed to have free contact with the infant. Keepers were cautiously optimistic when Kumbuka eventually approached the little one and showed some interest. Kumbuka was initially curious and was even observed holding the baby for a few minutes. Unfortunately, her interest waned and by the end of the day, Kumbuka was actively avoiding Gandai. She did not bring Gandai into her nest to sleep overnight. When keepers saw Kumbuka’s frustration rising the next morning with every approach from Gandai, they knew it was time to consider Plan B.

At 9am on February 27, Kumbuka was given the opportunity to leave Gandai’s room, which she did without hesitation. Bulera was immediately given access to the baby. Immediately the keepers could tell this was a better fit. She was holding the baby within minutes and comforting her with soft vocal rumbles. She carried her around the enclosure, cuddled with her, brought her into her nest to sleep and responded quickly to any cries. Even better, Gandai is smitten with her adoptive mother.

Bulera is an experienced mother who raised 22-year old Madini and George who recently turned four. She is a confident and relaxed mother with a calm demeanor. The fact that young George is fully weaned, precocious, and enjoys independence, and has a close relationship with his father and playmate Patty, facilitated Bulera being available as a surrogate for Gandai.

The situation is still fluid as keepers continue to monitor the two behind-the-scenes and around the clock. Decisions are being made on who to introduce to Bulera and Gandai in next steps when they indicate they are ready.

Kumbuka is contently spending time with silverback Lash. She is not showing any concern about the situation. Keepers are disappointed that Kumbuka was not interested in mothering Gandai, but glad that the two can continue to live in the same group and develop a relationship. They anticipate that she will ultimately play an aunt role to Gandai, like she has done with the other offspring in the group.

See more photos of the baby Gorilla below.

Continue reading "Baby Gorilla Bonds with Surrogate Mom" »


Keepers Help Gorilla Baby Reach Milestones

1_exploring her home

Dedicated Gorilla keepers at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens have spent the last four months preparing baby Gandai for the time she can rejoin her mother, Kumbuka, and the rest of their Western Lowland Gorilla troop.

Kumbuka gave birth to little Gandai on September 28. Although Kumbuka’s initial maternal behavior toward the baby was perfect and normal, keepers noticed the new mother was cradling and carrying her youngster improperly---similarly to the way that she behaved when she lost two previous offspring at another zoo.

It is theorized that Kumbuka’s hearing disability may prevent her from detecting when her youngsters are in distress. The extremely difficult decision was made to remove Kumbuka’s baby for short-term assisted rearing by Gorilla care staff.

(ZooBorns shared news of the infant’s birth, as well as amazing photos, in a recent feature: “Western Lowland Gorilla Born at Jacksonville Zoo”)

2_hanging on tight

3_infant holding on

4_happy girlPhoto Credits: Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens/ John Reed Photography

Before the infant can be reintroduced, she needs to achieve specific milestones including walking, taking a bottle through mesh, the ability to hold on when being carried, and various developmental criteria. Keepers are proud to say Gandai has been making great strides in reaching these goals.

Gandai’s keepers have taken turns providing around-the-clock care since the decision was made to remove her from the troop. While assistance-rearing the young Gorilla, keepers have not just cared for Gandai like a mother would, but they have also focused on getting her to a point where she can return to her real mother. Keepers report that it has been both a demanding and rewarding journey.

To get little Gandai strong, and to teach her all the things a Gorilla would need to know to fit in with the Zoo’s troop, the keepers and Gandai went through what is affectionately being called “baby boot camp”.

Zoo staff were initially concerned with Gandai’s gripping ability in her right hand, so strength conditioning was made a priority. Gandai will need to be able to both position herself on Kumbuka when carried and to right herself when being held or sitting.

It is also crucially important that Gandai be able to navigate her habitat by herself. She will need to be able to come when called to take supplemental bottles and feedings. Most parents will relate when the keepers express their excitement, as Gandai is nearly phased-out of overnight bottles. She has been taught to take a bottle through the mesh barrier that separates the troop from keeper staff. Additionally, Gandai has been introduced to soft solid foods and is thoroughly enjoying banana, steamed sweet potatoes and cooked broccoli.

Continue reading "Keepers Help Gorilla Baby Reach Milestones " »


Meet France's First Baby Gorilla of 2018

44881128_2231533970204870_3133716694460006400_n

ZooParc de Beauval announced that Sheila, one of its three female Gorillas, gave birth to a baby on October 27 in full view of zoo visitors. The infant is the first Great Ape born in France this year.

44927083_2231534046871529_7289679255120642048_n
44927083_2231534046871529_7289679255120642048_n
44927083_2231534046871529_7289679255120642048_nPhoto Credit: ZooParc de Beauval

So far, the baby and Sheila appear to be doing well. The infant’s gender has not been confirmed, although the staff suspects it is a male. For now, the care team feels no need to intervene or interrupt the bonding process between mother and baby.

Though the baby is nursing and Sheila is exhibiting appropriate maternal behavior, the staff remains cautious because, as with all babies, the first few days are always precarious.

The baby’s arrival created great interest among the other members of the Gorilla troop, who often gather around Shelia and her new baby. The baby’s father is Asato, the troop's large male silverback.

Western Lowland Gorillas are classified as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Threats include Gorillas being illegally hunted for bushmeat and the prevalence of infectious diseases such as the Ebola virus. Past Ebola outbreaks have resulted in a 95% mortality rate in some Gorilla populations. Conservationists estimate that it could take up to 130 years for the Gorilla population to recover completely. The current population is estimated at a few hundred thousand individuals.

Gorillas’ dire scenario in the wild makes the birth of this infant at ZooParc de Beauval even more important to the survival of the species.


Western Lowland Gorilla Born at Jacksonville Zoo

1_infant Kim Skelton

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is pleased to announce that 22-year-old, Western Lowland Gorilla, Kumbuka, gave birth to a healthy infant. The 4.8-pound female was born on September 28th at 1:30 pm.

Labor began in the mixed-species habitat the Gorillas share with Colobus Monkeys and Mandrills, but concluded in the birthing-suite within the Gorilla shelter building. As soon as labor was reported, staff was able to call the Gorilla family indoors so that Kumbuka could be closely monitored in a quiet environment.

Kumbuka’s initial maternal behavior toward the baby was perfect and normal. Unfortunately, Kumbuka was cradling and carrying her youngster improperly- similarly to the way that she behaved when she lost two previous offspring at another zoo.

It is theorized that Kumbuka’s hearing disability may prevent her from detecting when her youngsters are in distress. Faced with a life-threatening situation, the extremely difficult decision was made to remove Kumbuka’s baby for short-term assisted rearing by Gorilla care staff. This decision is supported by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Gorilla SSP (Species Survival Plan) group.

The Gorilla SSP recommended that Kumbuka join the Jacksonville Zoo troop to learn maternal behavior from the other mother Gorillas and participate in a maternal training program.

2_infant 2 Kim Skelton

3_infant 3 Kim Skelton

4_kumbukaPhoto Credits: Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens/ Images 1-3: Kim Skelton/ Images 5-6: Lynde Nunn 

After her arrival in 2014, Jacksonville Gorilla care staff began suspecting that Kumbuka may be hearing-impaired. In 2017, her condition was confirmed through consultation with audiologists from Nemours Children’s Specialty Care.

Her diagnosis provided valuable information for developing a specialized birth management plan to improve Kumbuka’s chances for maternal success. Throughout Kumbuka’s pregnancy, keepers worked to teach her the correct way to position an infant and other essential maternal skills, while also planning for the potential need to intervene based on her history.

Now the training continues with keepers showing her the proper way to hold and carry the infant. Kumbuka is watching and learning as keepers provide around-the-clock care to her infant, right next door to her and the rest of the Gorillas. Kumbuka can see and smell her baby and shows particular interest when the keepers demonstrate walking “gorilla-style” while holding the little one. Maintaining the close connection between mother and daughter is essential for a successful reintroduction. Once the baby is strong enough to adjust herself, she can hopefully be reunited.

Continue reading "Western Lowland Gorilla Born at Jacksonville Zoo" »


Western Lowland Gorilla Born at Riverbanks Zoo

1_Southern Hook

Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is excited to announce the birth of a Western Lowland Gorilla. The infant was born to first-time mom, Kazi, and dad, Cenzoo, on June 4.

"This is an exciting time for Riverbanks, our members and guests, and the community," said John Davis, Director of Animal Care and Welfare at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden. "Kazi has been a great mother throughout her pregnancy, and we anticipate that she will continue to provide the best care for her infant."

With only an estimated 100,000 Western Lowland Gorillas remaining in the wild, the birth is a significant addition to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Gorilla Species Survival Plan® (SSP). For nearly 40 years, SSPs have ensured the continued existence of endangered animals through breeding and transfer plans among AZA-accredited facilities.

2_087BB08D-2BAE-4B41-8C58-84AB55A19541

3_34984598_10155691279485292_4106115986267045888_n

4_34984692_10155691279200292_3380029684451377152_nPhoto Credits: Riverbanks Zoo and Garden/ Southern Hook Photography (Image 1) 

Twenty-two-year-old silverback, Cenzoo, 12-year-old Kazi, and two other female gorillas arrived at Riverbanks in August of 2015 to form the Zoo's family troop. Davis adds that the unit is extremely cohesive, and all are adapting nicely to the new member of their group.

"The infant began nursing shortly after delivery and appears to be bonding well with mom”, Davis said. "The first 72-hours post-partum is the most critical. Animal care staff will continue to closely monitor Kazi and her infant and the entire family troop."

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.

They are currently classified as “Critically Endangered” by the IUCN. Major threats include: deforestation, farming, grazing expanding human settlements, and bush meat hunting.

5_IMG_3007

6_IMG_3008

7_35055104_10155691279395292_9069429757447241728_n


National Zoo Welcomes Western Lowland Gorilla

1_gorillas_calaya_and_moke_dsc01824

For the first time in nine years, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute is celebrating the birth of a male Western Lowland Gorilla. The baby boy was born on April 15 and has been named Moke [Mo-KEY], which means “junior” or “little one” in the Lingala language.

The 15-year-old mother, Calaya, and 26-year-old father, Baraka, bred in summer 2017 following a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan (SSP).

Keepers have observed Calaya nursing the clinging infant, and they are cautiously optimistic that the newborn will thrive. The Great Ape House is currently closed to provide Calaya a private space to bond with her infant.

2_gorillas_calaya_and_moke_dsc01829

3_gorillas_calaya_and_moke_dsc01840

4_img_4503_15apr18_msPhoto Credits: Matt Spence/ Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Using a human pregnancy test in the Fall of 2017, keepers confirmed that Calaya had successfully conceived. The team also trained Calaya to participate voluntarily in ultrasounds, so they have been able to monitor fetal growth and development throughout the pregnancy. On November 3, the Zoo finally announced her pregnancy and has been providing updates via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #GorillaStory. The Zoo will continue to share updates, photos and videos of the infant’s development.

“The birth of this Western Lowland Gorilla is very special and significant, not only to our Zoo family but also to this critically endangered species as a whole,” said Meredith Bastian, curator of primates. “The primate team’s goal was to set Calaya up for success as best we could, given that she is a first-time mother. Doing so required great patience and dedication on the part of my team, and I am very proud of them and Calaya.”

Continue reading "National Zoo Welcomes Western Lowland Gorilla" »


Baby Gorilla Born as Zoo Visitors Watch

14 de marzo 2018 - La gorila Fossey y su bebé recién nacido - BIOPARC Valencia (2)-min

Visitors to Spain’s Bioparc Valencia witnessed a special moment when Fossey, a Western Lowland Gorilla, gave birth in the exhibit habitat at about 4:00 pm on March 8.

The infant, whose gender is not yet known, is the fourth baby of this Critically Endangered species to be born at Bioparc Valencia in the last five years.

8-marzo-nace-el-cuarto-gorila-valenciano-en-BIOPARC
8-marzo-nace-el-cuarto-gorila-valenciano-en-BIOPARCPhoto Credit: Bioparc Valencia

This is the first baby for 18-year-old Fossey, who is named for American primatologist Dian Fossey.  Silverback Mambie is the father of all four babies born at Bioparc Valencia.

The Gorilla family at Bioparc Valencia is large and stable, which contributes to a tranquil setting for newborns. The group consists of three adult females, one silverback, and youngsters Ebo, 5, Virunga, 19 months, and Mbeli, 5 months.

To prepare for the birth, the Gorilla team gave the entire group access to indoor and outdoor quarters all day and all night. This allowed the new mom to find a comfortable space to deliver her baby. Gorillas are naturally social, and the other members of the troop immediately came to meet the new baby. The young Gorillas in particular showed a great deal of interest in their new half-sibling.

The new baby will play a vital role in the European Gorilla Conservation Program, a cooperative effort of European zoos to maintain a genetically healthy and sustainable Gorilla population.

Western Lowland Gorillas are native to the mountain forests of central Africa. The total population is around 150,000 – 250,000 individuals, but declines at a rate of 2.5% per year. The number one threat to this species is poaching – the illegal hunting and killing of Gorillas for body parts. Gorillas are hunted even in protected areas. Diseases, including Ebola virus, are another serious threat.   

See more photos of the baby Gorilla below.

Continue reading "Baby Gorilla Born as Zoo Visitors Watch" »


Endangered Gorilla Born at Taronga Zoo

1_AT_005720151016

Taronga Zoo announced the recent birth of a male Western Lowland Gorilla. The adorable baby was born to mum, Mbeli, and father, Kibali, on September 1st.

Primate Keeper, Alison Smith, said the team is delighted with the addition to the family at Taronga Zoo: “Mbeli is a very relaxed and confident mother. Her mother was a fantastic role model for her so she has taken that on and is really attentive toward the baby. In turn, the baby is getting stronger every day.”

Ms. Smith added, “Mbeli and baby are both doing very well and are bonding well. They are being closely watched by our Keepers and veterinary team, as well as the baby’s inquisitive big brother, MJ, who is almost two years old. MJ was present during the birth and he will be excited to start playing with his brother when he gets a little bit older.”

2_AT_005120151016

3_AT_003720151016

4_AT_003920151016Photo Credits: Taronga Zoo

The birth brings the number of Taronga’s Western Lowland Gorillas to seven. The newborn is an extremely valuable addition to world breeding programs for gorillas, helping insure against rapidly declining numbers of gorillas in Africa. Western Lowland Gorillas are critically endangered, with the long-term survival of this species under serious threat due to habitat destruction and deforestation, poaching and disease outbreaks like Ebola.

Minister for Environment, the Hon Gabriel Upton MP, said the birth was a significant achievement for wildlife conservation. “The birth of this new baby gorilla is such exciting news, and helps to secure the future of the Western Lowland Gorilla, with as few as 100,000 remaining in the wild in the Congo Basin,” said Minister Upton.

“This is just one insight into the important work Taronga Zoo does to ensure species thrive. Taronga Zoo plays an important role as a world leader in conserving threatened and endangered species in Australia and worldwide,” Minister Upton said. “I congratulate Taronga Zoo on all of their efforts in ensuring the success of this birth.”

A competition will take place to name the newborn gorilla over the next two weeks via the zoo’s website at: www.Taronga.org.au.

Keen-eyed visitors to Taronga Zoo can catch glimpses of the new arrival and his family throughout the day. The best viewing times are during the Gorilla Feeding Sessions at 10.45am, 12.30am and 2.30pm.

More pics below the fold!

Continue reading "Endangered Gorilla Born at Taronga Zoo" »


Bioparc Valencia Keepers Confirm Their Suspicions

1_La bebé gorila cumple 1 mes de vida - BIOPARC Valencia - agosto 2017 (2)

During a recent well-check exam, BIOPARC Valencia keepers confirmed their suspicions; their new Western Lowland Gorilla baby is indeed a female!

The infant was born July 21 and is the Zoo’s third Western Lowland Gorilla birth.

The new baby is an important member of the zoo’s Gorilla troop. Experienced mom, Nalani, and father, Mambie, are doing an excellent job caring for their new offspring. Aside from the proud parents and their new baby, the troop at BIOPARC Valencia includes: Mambie’s firstborn, Ebo (4-years-old), female Fossey, and 12-month-old Virunga.

2_La bebé gorila cumple 1 mes de vida - BIOPARC Valencia - agosto 2017 (3)

3_La gorila Ali y su bebé de un mes - agosto 2017 - BIOPARC Valencia

4_21 agosto 2017 - El bebé gorila nacido este verano cumple 1 mes de vida - BIOPARC Valencia (2)Photo Credits: BIOPARC Valencia

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.


Third Gorilla Birth for BIOPARC Valencia

1_Bebé gorila recién nacido en BIOPARC Valencia - julio 2017

On the evening of July 21, BIOPARC Valencia welcomed their third Western Lowland Gorilla birth!

The Spanish zoo is calling the infant by the name Ali and, although keepers haven’t confirmed, they suspect it is a female.

The new baby is an important member of the zoo’s Gorilla troop. Experienced mom, Nalani, and father, Mambie, are doing an excellent job caring for their new offspring. Aside from the proud parents and their new baby, the troop at BIOPARC Valencia includes: Mambie’s firstborn, Ebo (4-years-old), female Fossey, and 11-month-old Virunga.

2_Julio 2017 - bebé gorila recién nacido en BIOPARC Valencia (2)

3_Julio 2017 - bebé gorila recién nacido en BIOPARC Valencia (3)

4_Bosque ecuatorial - Bebé gorila recién nacido en BIOPARC Valencia - julio 2017Photo Credits: BIOPARC Valencia

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.