Gorilla Born at Brookfield Zoo
The Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo, is happy to announce the birth of a female western lowland gorilla. The infant, born to 18-year-old Koola, was born in the early morning hours on November 4. The two can be seen on exhibit in Tropic World: Africa along with Koola’s daughter Kamba, 9; Koola’s mother Binti, 25; and JoJo, 33, the sire of the infant.
A newborn gorilla weighs between 4 and 5 pounds at birth. As the baby grows, she will develop thicker hair and a white “tail” tuft. The infant has a strong grip and will cling to Koola’s abdomen. At 3 months of age, zoo guests will be able to observe the baby riding on Koola’s back. About a month later, she will start to sample small pieces of food, however, nursing will continue until she is 3 to 4 years old. Also, at 4 months of age she will start to explore on her own but will stay within arm’s reach of mom.
JoJo arrived at Brookfield Zoo from Lincoln Park Zoo in May 2012 based on a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Gorilla Species Survival Plan. A Species Survival Plan is a cooperative population management and conservation program for select species in accredited North American zoos and aquariums. Each plan manages the breeding of a species to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable. According to the Western Lowland Gorilla Species Survival Plan, JoJo is one of the most genetically valuable males in the zoo population. Currently, there are 342 western lowland gorillas in 53 accredited North American zoos.
“We are extremely pleased that JoJo has successfully assumed the role as the silverback or leader of Brookfield Zoo’s gorilla group and has made a positive impact since his arrival,” said Stuart Strahl, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Chicago Zoological Society. “This infant represents an important contribution to the gorilla population in North American zoos. We hope that when zoo guests see the infant and her family members they will be inspired to care for this critically endangered species.”
Gorillas live in social groups composed of one adult male, several adult females, juveniles, and infants. As they reach sexual maturity, both males and females typically leave the group in which they were born. They either establish a new group or join an existing one.
Western lowland gorillas are critically endangered due to habitat destruction, primarily from logging, disease such as the Ebola virus, the illegal pet trade, and poaching for bushmeat. It is not known how many western lowland gorillas survive in their native West Africa (the forests of Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Nigeria, Congo, and Angola). Some recent estimates have been between 90,000 and 110,000 individuals, but new surveys are needed to determine whether or not this figure is exaggerated.