Birth of gorilla is a joy for Buffalo Zoo - The Buffalo News

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Birth of gorilla is a joy for Buffalo Zoo

A fifth gorilla has a Parkside address.

A baby, gender still to be determined, was born early Wednesday afternoon at the Buffalo Zoo to Lily, 12, and Koga, 26.

The mother, a first-time mom who is showing strong maternal instincts, and the baby appear to be doing great, said Donna Fernandes, zoo president.

“She’s such a good mom. It looked like she was kissing her in one of the pictures I saw,” Fernandes said. “We hope the public will come see her this fall. It’s only a short time when they are in their mothers arms, before they’re running about.”

Gorillas typically begin walking between three months and six months of age, and they are weaned around age 3.

Zookeepers were prepared to hand-raise the baby gorilla if necessary. That was the case for the first six gorillas born to Lily’s mother, Kwizera, before Lily, her seventh and last baby, was born.

Kwizera had pretty much abandoned her first six babies.

But before Lily’s birth, a zookeeper taught Kwizera to hold a baby doll as if it were her own baby, using a reward system, Fernandes said. That translated into Kwizera acting as a good mother to Lily, who in turn has been the same with her newborn.

“The zoo has made great strides in encouraging mother-rearing instead of human-rearing. Human-reared animals didn’t know what to do,” Fernandes said.

Lily also was trained to present her abdomen to keepers and remain calm while the baby’s growth was monitored with ultrasound technology, making the zoo one of the few to successfully measure the development of a western lowland gorilla in utero. That research, zoo officials say, is important to the study and husbandry of gorillas.

The baby, whose birth weight is unknown, is the 10th gorilla born at the zoo since 1990. The previous birth was Amari, a female born in October 2010.

“We have had a long tradition of success breeding gorillas,” Fernandes said.

Western lowland gorillas are found in the lowland tropical forests of central Africa. The species is critically endangered due to loss of habitat and the bush meat trade.


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