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History made as critically endangered baby western lowland gorilla born at Columbus Zoo


History made as critically endangered baby western lowland gorilla born at Columbus Zoo

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — The Columbus Zoo has welcomed the birth of a critically-endangered western lowland baby gorilla, according to zoo officials.

The baby gorilla was born in the early hours of Saturday morning to first-time mother Sue and experienced father Ktembe, according to a statement from the Columbus Zoo released on Wednesday.

“The Zoo’s expert Animal Care team continues to monitor the gorillas and report that Sue is very attentive and providing excellent care to her little one, who she nuzzles and cradles closely,” zoo officials said in the birth announcement. “To ensure that Sue and her newborn have time to bond with minimal interruptions, the care team will determine the sex of the baby at a later date.”

Zoo officials say that the troop has been “adjusting well” so far to the newest addition to the family but that the indoor viewing habitat in the Zoo’s Congo Expedition region will remain closed for several days “to provide the gorillas with some more privacy.”

However, from this coming Monday, guests will be invited to visit the newly-expanded gorilla family from 11 a.m. throughout the day and “visitors may have the opportunity to see the gorillas, though the troop will have access to the indoor habitat and behind-the-scenes areas, so baby viewing is not guaranteed. ”These hours will remain limited for the near future while the gorillas continue to bond.”

“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. 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. We are proud of the dedication of our care teams who diligently work to provide the gorillas with top quality care and wellbeing while continuing the legacy of the Columbus Zoo’s renown gorilla program,” said Audra Meinelt, curator of the Columbus Zoo’s Congo Expedition region.

The pairing of Sue and Ktembe was recommended by the Species Survival Plan, a program coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to maintain genetic diversity of threatened and endangered species in professional care.

Western lowland gorillas are listed as critically endangered, according to the International Union For Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species.

“Habitat loss and deforestation have historically been the primary cause for declining populations of Africa’s great apes, but experts now agree that the illegal commercial bushmeat trade has surpassed habitat loss as the primary threat to ape populations—particularly for western lowland gorillas,” zoo officials said.

The newest baby born on Saturday is the 35th gorilla to be born at the Columbus Zoo since 1956 when Colo, the very first gorilla to be born in professional care, was born at the same zoo.

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