Taronga Zoo has announced the birth of a male Western Lowland Gorilla. The gorilla was born to Mbeli on Tuesday and represents a second generation of gorillas as part of the zoo’s successful breeding program.
Rob Stokes the New South Wales Environment Minister said, “This is a wonderful achievement for Taronga’s role in the international breeding program. It certainly reflects the Zoo’s dedication and commitment to conservation. This birth is a triumph and testament to the hard work of the keepers.”
Mbeli was born at Taronga Zoo in 2003. As her baby is the second generation of gorillas born at Taronga they decided a fitting name would be Mijukuu which means ‘grandchild’ or ‘second generation’ in Swahili.
Taronga Zoo’s senior primate keeper, Lou Grossfeldt said, ““Mbeli was born here so it’s great to see her back at Taronga and having babies herself where she grew up in a natural gorilla family group. She has seen first-hand how to care for an infant.”
For Taronga’s new silverback Kibali this is his first ever baby. He came to Taronga in 2012 from France after keepers conducted a worldwide search for a new silverback after the old silverback Kibabu was retired.
The zoo suggests that it is true love for the pairing with Mbeli being infatuated by Kibali since they were first introduced.
The European breeding program assisted in selecting Kibali by identifying him as genetically and behaviourally suitable.
Kibali has been an attentive father and was seen checking over the baby soon after the birth. This birth has helped to make Kibali more mature as he was still showing some childish behaviour at times.
Keepers kept a watchful over Mbeli during the birth and made sure everything went smoothly. A human obstetrician was even on hand to help if there were complications or other emergency’s.
Taronga Zoo’s director Cameron Kerr said, “This birth is vital for Taronga’s highly successful Western Lowland Gorilla breeding program. Taronga continues to tell many people about the plight of gorillas in the wild and what can be done just by visiting Taronga to see this infant.”
“Taronga supports gorillas in the wild through the “They’re Calling You” Project to recycle mobile phones to help reduce illegal mining in gorilla habitat and to fund extra wildlife rangers to protect gorillas and other wildlife in Africa,” added Kerr.
The gorillas are also under threat from one of humanities greatest issues at the moment as well as Kerr explained, “Researchers have also warned that the current Ebola outbreak could have devastating effects on gorilla populations. In 2003 and 2004 the virus reduced the number of gorillas in the Republic of Congo’s Pdzala Kokoua National Park from 380 to less than 40.”
Photo Credits: Taronga Zoo/Lisa Ridley