Critically endangered western lowland gorilla born at zoo — welcome to the world

It’s always a special moment for a zoo when a new baby animal is born, especially when they are part of an endangered species. Each new birth is a step towards ensuring the species’ survival.

Now, one zoo is celebrating the new arrival of a newborn western lowland gorilla, a welcome addition to a critically endangered species.

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, in Powell, Ohio, announced on June 3 that a baby western lowland gorilla was born on June 29, to first-time mom Sue and her partner Ktembe.

Credit: Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

In a press release, the zoo’s care team said that Sue was “very attentive and providing excellent care to her little one.” The staff are monitoring mom and baby but keeping their distance; they will determine the newborn’s sex at a later date.

While Sue has her hands full with her first child, she’s getting support from Nia and Cassie, the other females in the zoo’s gorilla troop. Four-year-old Jamani, one of Ktembe’s offspring and the newborn’s half-sister, is reportedly curious and excited to play with the baby but is corrected by her elders if she gets too eager.

Credit: Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

The Columbus Zoo closed their Congo Expedition region to visitors for a few days to allow the troop some space and privacy after the new arrival, but as of July 8 it was reopened, allowing guests to get a look at the adorable newborn.

“For months, our care team has been busy preparing for the baby’s arrival, and we are thrilled that the time has finally come to welcome this important new addition,” said Audra Meinelt, curator of the Columbus Zoo’s Congo Expedition region.”

“With tiny hands and beautiful big brown eyes that melt our hearts, this baby is absolutely precious—in regard to both the cuteness factor and what the baby represents for this species’ future.”

Credit: Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

In addition to being exciting news for the zoo and the gorilla troop, the newborn’s arrival is a positive sign for the species as a whole. The western lowland gorilla is listed on the IUCN Red List as a critically endangered species, threatened by habitat loss, deforestation and the illegal bushmeat trade.

Credit: Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Sue and Ktembe were paired under a recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan to maintain genetic diversity. Sue is a first-time mom, but Ktembe is an experienced father. Their newborn is the 35th gorilla to be born at the Columbus Zoo.

The zoo’s gorilla breeding program dates back to 1956, when a western lowland gorilla named Colo was the first gorilla born in professional care. The zoo also runs a gorilla fostering program for gorillas whose mothers were unable to care for them, and supports conservation efforts in Africa.

Credit: Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

What an adorable newborn gorilla and an inspiring sign for this critically endangered species! Congrats to first-time mom Sue, who is taking such good care of her newborn ❤️

Please share this amazing news!