Audubon Zoo Expecting First Critically Endangered Gorilla Baby in 24 Years
Congratulations are in order for a western lowland gorilla at Audubon Zoo in New Orleans!
Today, the zoo announced that one of their critically endangered western lowland gorillas is expecting. This will be the first gorilla birth at Audubon Zoo in 24 years and the first offspring for 13-year-old Tumani.
This pregnancy is the result of successful breeding between Tumani and Okpara, a 26-year-old silverback gorilla. The baby gorilla will be Tumani and Okpara's first. And we don't have to wait long: Tumani's birth window is July 15 through August 20.
"We are working closely with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' gorilla birth plan to guarantee that Tumani and the infant are receiving the best prenatal care," Audubon Zoo's Senior Veterinarian Dr. Robert MacLean said in a news release. "There are many risks involved with gorilla births, especially in a troop unfamiliar with an infant, but we are working with the entire troop to ensure they are ready for the new addition."
As they do with all primate moms-to-be, zoo staff are working with Tumani through daily training and enrichment activities to prepare her to be comfortable with the possibility of staff assisting her with feeding or caring for the infant. Another female in the troop is also receiving daily training to prepare her in the event that she would need to help Tumani care for the infant or act as a foster mother.
Western lowland gorillas have been assessed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as critically endangered, with a population decline of more than 80%, mainly due to illegal hunting, disease, habitat loss, and an increase in poaching.
Congrats, mama! We can't wait to meet your little one.