Tuesday, January 13, 2009

National Zoo Has a New Baby Gorilla

A baby western lowland gorilla was born January 11 at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. Staff estimate the baby was born at approximately 1:45 p.m. to 26-year-old female Mandara and 16-year-old Baraka. The newborn represents the seventh successful gorilla birth for the Zoo since 1991. This is the sixth offspring for Mandara. The newborn joins siblings Kigali, Kwame and Kojo, as well as group member Haloko at the Great Ape House. All of the Zoo’s gorillas will remain on exhibit.

Both mother and baby appear to be doing well. The baby’s sex has not yet been determined.

“We began monitoring the baby as soon as it was discovered and will continue to do so for the next couple of weeks,” said Don Moore, associate director for animal care. “This is a very critical time for the survival of the infant, and all precautions must be taken to ensure that Mandara and her baby are in an environment that is comfortable, safe and controlled. Mandara is a very experienced and competent mother, and we’re confident that she will properly care for and bond with her baby.”

The gorilla birth is significant for the National Zoo. Western lowland gorillas, which are native to tropical forests of West and Central Africa, are listed as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Red List of Threatened Species, primarily due to habitat loss and fragmentation and poaching. They are also a focus of the Zoo’s participation in Species Survival Plan, in which North American zoos collaborate to encourage the development of a self-sustaining zoo gorilla population, helping to ensure the survival of this endangered species. Each SSP manages the breeding of a species in order to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable.

Mandara, born at the Lincoln Park Zoo in April 1982, is owned by the Milwaukee Zoo. She came to the National Zoo in October 1985. Baraka was born at the Zoo in 1992 to Haloko and Gus. He went to the Henry Doorly Zoo in March 2004 and returned to the Zoo in late 2006.

For more information about the Zoo’s gorillas and its conservation efforts, visit www.nationalzoo.si.edu.

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