Critically endangered gorilla dies six days after it was born at Audubon Zoo

Critically endangered gorilla dies six days after it was born at Audubon Zoo

Less than one week after the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans revealed the birth of a western lowland gorilla, the zoo announced the infant gorilla has died.

At this time, zoo officials aren’t sure what caused the infant’s death.

On September 4, Tumani, the zoo’s 13-year-old western lowland gorilla, welcomed her first offspring. It was also the zoo’s first gorilla birth in 24 years.

Both mother and baby were doing well, and Audubon Nature Institute President and CEO Ron Forman called it a “momentous occasion for Audubon Zoo.”

“We are thrilled to share this birth with our New Orleans community and contribute to the conservation efforts of this critically endangered species.”

Since it was Tumani’s first birth, Audubon took extra precautions, speaking with various doctors, including the Species Survival Plan Gorilla Birth Management Team – Audubon is a member of the Gorilla Species Survival Plan – and working with her to prepare her for motherhood.

After the birth, staff carefully monitored the two and both seemed to be getting along well.

But Wednesday evening, animal care staff noticed the infant was lethargic.

According to a press release, the infant was transferred to the zoo’s hospital, but it could not be revived.

“It is not unusual for a first-time gorilla mom to lose an offspring.”

Dr. MacLean, Audubon’s Senior Veterinarian, explained that unfortunately there are many risks involved with gorilla births, and despite the zoo taking every possible precaution, Tumani lost her baby.

Staff believed the infant’s death was the result of a lack of lactation from Tumani, but they will wait until a necropsy is performed to determine a cause of death.

“We are heartbroken over the loss,” Forman said. 

“This has been a work in progress for many years, from the introduction of the new troop members to the announcement of the birth, everyone involved has worked tirelessly. I am incredibly proud of our team. We will continue to contribute to the conservation of this amazing species.” 

This is such heartbreaking news. I was so happy when the announcement was made that a new gorilla had been born, and now we must more the infant’s death.

Rest in peace, little fellow.