Zoo celebrates birth of critically endangered western lowland gorilla

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

Now, one zoo is celebrating the birth of a beautiful baby western lowland gorilla, a critically endangered species.

The Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium announced this week that a newborn female gorilla was born to 32-year-old mother Ibo. The baby arrived on February 14, making it a very special Valentine’s Day for everyone.

According to a press release, it is Ibo’s second baby following a long hiatus: her last baby was born when she was just eight years old. Despite the unusual circumstances, zoo officials say she is a great and loving mom.

Courtest of Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium. Photographer: Paul Selvaggio

“With this new baby coming later in life, Ibo is a great mom,” says Karen Vacco, Assistant Curator of Mammals. “She is showing off the baby, cradling, and nursing. She naturally knows what to do and doesn’t need any intervention from staff. We are tracking their progress, and they’re both doing really well.”

The western lowland gorilla is listed as a critically endangered species with a rapidly decreasing population. Native to Africa’s Congo Basin, they have been threatened by illegal poaching, habitat loss and disease.

But a new birth is always a positive sign for a critically endangered species, and the zoo called the newborn “a welcome addition to the species as a whole.”

Courtest of Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium. Photographer: Paul Selvaggio

The Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium, one of the major zoo and aquarium combinations in the United States, is home to more than 8,000 animals across more than 600 species. They are involved with research and conservation projects recognized across the world.

The zoo says their newborn is “gradually being introduced” to zoo guests, and will be seen in the public habitat more as the season progresses. The zoo is encouraging fans to get involved with a naming contest: Through March 31, fans can suggest a name for the newborn with a $5 donation.

What an adorable newborn and a great sign of hope for this critically endangered species — welcome to the world ❤️

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