Baby Gorillas Make Their Zoo Debut
(Photos by Julie Larson)
BRONX, NEW YORK, APRIL 24- Two western lowland gorillas were born at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo. These are the first gorillas born at the Bronx Zoo since 2006.
The Bronx Zoo’s Congo Gorilla Forest is now home to 20 gorillas – the largest group of gorillas in North America. The Bronx Zoo has a successful history breeding gorillas as part of the Species Survival Plan, a cooperative breeding program designed to enhance the genetic viability of animal populations in zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
The gender of the babies is not yet known. The infants and the parents live with the rest of their troop in the Bronx Zoo’s Congo Gorilla Forest. These are the 14th and 15th gorillas born at this award-winning exhibit and there have been 50 gorillas born at the Bronx Zoo since 1972.
When the babies can be seen by visitors this spring will vary day-by-day depending on weather, temperature, and other environmental factors.
Julia (33 years old) gave birth on March 10 and Tuti (19 years old) had her baby on April 17. Ernie (31 years old) is the father of both babies. Julia and Tuti are both experienced mothers; Julia has successfully reared two babies and Tuti has had one other. Ernie is a first-time father.
The gestation period for a gorilla is 8.5 months and newborns weigh approximately 4 to 5 pounds. Gorilla infants are held by their mother for the first four months of their life. Infants start eating solid foods at about 6 months but will nurse until they are 3 or 4 years old.
Gorillas are the world’s largest primates. Adult males weigh between 350-450 pounds and when standing upright can be up to six feet tall. Adult females weigh between 150-250 pounds and are up to four feet tall.
Congo Gorilla Forest opened in 1999 on a 6.5-acre footprint in the southwest corner of the zoo. The exhibit is an immersive walkthrough that gives zoo-goers the feeling of being in a Central African rainforest where they can see examples of African biodiversity. Species include mandrills, okapis, many species of birds and invertebrates, and of course the western lowland gorillas. Congo Gorilla Forest has won many awards for its design, animal habitats, and horticulture. It is also among the world’s first zoo exhibits where admission fees go directly to field conservation efforts in Africa. Since it opened, more than $12.5 million has gone to support WCS’s Global Conservation Programs.
Western lowland gorillas are designated as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Their natural range spans tropical and subtropical forests in equatorial Africa. They are primarily vegetarian, mainly consuming fruits, plants, and some insects. They spend much of their time on the ground, but are excellent climbers.
The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places around the globe and in all four of the world’s oceans. WCS works throughout Central Africa to protect gorillas from habitat loss and illegal hunting.
Visit: www.wcs.org; http://www.facebook.com/TheWCS; http://www.youtube.com/user/WCSMedia Follow: @thewcs.