Belfast Zoo has welcomed a new gorilla into their family with the birth of a girl on Sunday the 30th of March. The baby’s arrival was perfectly timed as it allowed mother Kamili to celebrate mother’s day with the baby. She was also a good present for the zoo’s 80th birthday celebrations.
Keepers have had to wait to announce the sex of the baby due to the protective nature of gorilla mothers. For the first couple of weeks mum, Kamili, held the baby tight against her chest.
The zoo decided to name the baby gorilla in line with her African origins. As such she has been named ‘Kibibi’. The name is Swahili for ‘little lady.’
Julie Mansell, zoo curator, shared the keepers excitement, ‘Kibibi is the second arrival within the last year for dad, Gugas, and she is the first girl!’
Keepers worried last year that Gugas would never father any children. Mansell explained that ‘In 2012, with no sign of pregnancies, we tested Gugas’ fertility and the results were not promising. In fact, we feared that Gugas would never father any young. We are delighted that he has proven us all wrong with the arrival of Kibibi and Baako in the last year.’
Her brother Baako was born on August 3rd 2013. This was the first gorilla birth at Belfast Zoo in 16 years.
Gugas was ,up until last year, unrepresented in the European gorilla population. He is important to breeding efforts as he was born in the wild.
He faced a rough of start to life after both of his parents were killed for bush meat production. He was then acquired by a Portuguese circus where he became ill. Due to this he was abandoned at Lisbon Zoo who sent him to live in a nursery group at Stuttgart Zoo. He has lived at the zoo since 1998 with no success in breeding until last year.
The baby is a welcome arrival with gorillas being critically endangered. Mansell said ‘All apes are endangered or critically endangered and some professionals have even predicted that all species of ape will be extinct within 30 years.’
Gorillas have faced major threat with evidence that ‘Gorilla populations have declined by more than 50% in recent decades and our role, as a zoo, in their conservation is becoming more and more vital,’ Mansell explained.
Photo Credit-Belfast Zoo