Keepers at Taronga Zoo have determined that their baby gorilla born on May 12th is a boy.
Mum Frala has been keeping the baby clutched tight to her chest since the birth. On Sunday afternoon keepers managed to get a peek at it while she groomed him. Gorillas clutch their babies to their chest as it is the warmest bit of the body and thus the best place for an infant to spend its first days.
Lou Grossfeldt, primate supervisor at Taronga said, “We’re really excited that it’s a strong, healthy boy. He’s got strong neck muscles, he’s very active and alert and he’s looking around and watching the other gorillas. He’s suckling a lot from Frala so these are all very positive signs to see.”
Now that keepers know it is a boy they are able to decide upon a name for him. In keeping with the group’s tradition it will be of Swahili origin and start with “F.”
“It’s interesting to see the other mother in the group, Mbeli, and her seven month old son Mjukuu coming over and showing interest in Frala and her baby. It’s great that these two half brothers will get to grow up together.”
“This form of socialisation is a really important part of any gorilla group,” she added.
Western Lowland gorillas are rare in the wild with just 100,000 remaining. Taronga support the “They’re Calling You” campaign that recycles mobile phones to reduce demand for illegally mined minerals. It also generates funds which fund wildlife patrols. You can find out more about the program here – “They’re calling you” | Taronga
Any additions to gorilla numbers are great insurance for the rapidly declining numbers in Western Africa.
Photo Credit: Taronga Zoo
1-3 Lisa Ridley
4-5 Rick Stevens