It’s always a great day at a zoo when a new animal is born. There’s nothing cuter than a newborn baby animal. It’s even more special when the animal is part of an endangered species: every new birth is a step towards recovering a struggling animal population.
Recently, one zoo had extra reason to celebrate: not only did they see the birth of an adorable newborn western lowland gorilla, but it was the first born at the zoo in their 139-year history.
The baby gorilla, a male, was born at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo on October 26 to 23-year-old mom Nneka and 34-year-old dad Mokolo, according to a press release from the zoo.
While the mom did not show “appropriate maternal care,” the baby gorilla was instinctively cared for by Fredrika, a mother of four and the eldest female in the troop.
“Over the past several days, Freddy has been bringing the newborn to be bottle fed by Cleveland Metroparks Zoo’s animal care team,” the zoo wrote.
“The team worked with the gorillas using positive reinforcement training techniques, through a protective barrier, to facilitate cooperative participation in the supplemental feeding of the infant. The technique allows the infant to stay with the gorilla family at all times to allow proper physical development.”
The zoo has been home to many gorillas over the years, and is considered an “international leader in gorilla research,” but this is reportedly the first time a newborn has arrived at the zoo.
“We’re thrilled to announce the birth of this gorilla, the first in our history, as we also look ahead towards the future at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo,” said Cleveland Metroparks CEO Brian M. Zimmerman.
The western lowland gorilla is a critically endangered species, threatened in the wild by illegal hunting and habitat loss due to deforestation, and in-captivity breeding programs like this can go a long way in helping a species repopulate.
According to their press release, the zoo helped spearhead the Gorilla Species Survival Plan and work closely with Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International.
Every new birth is a great step forward for this at-risk species, ensuring that the western lowland gorilla will be around for generations to come. Plus, this adorable newborn will be sure to delight visitors to the zoo, hopefully inspiring them to get involved with the conservation effort.
The zoo announced plans to get the public involved, including an opportunity to help name the baby. They also said they will continue to post videos and updates about the gorilla’s development.
Congratulations on the historic birth of this beautiful baby gorilla! Follow Cleveland Metroparks Zoo for more updates about this gorilla’s development.
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