Image: © Zoo Atlanta/ Cassie Moews

Zoo Atlanta Celebrating Birth of Gorilla Infant


The Animal Facts Editorial Team


April 26, 2023 5:41 pm


Atlanta, Georgia, The United States

One of the largest gorilla troops in North America has a new member with Zoo Atlanta announcing the arrival of a healthy infant. Born on April 24, 2023, this is the first offspring for Willie B., Jr., only son of his legendary late father and the 25th gorilla born at Zoo Atlanta since the opening of The Ford African Rain Forest in 1988.

Mother Sheila gave birth on April 24, 2023. The birth came roughly two weeks before her anticipated birthing window but the infant appears healthy and is nursing normally, and is receiving appropriate maternal care. Keepers are yet to confirm the gender of the new arrival.

Father Willie B. Jr. is the only son of Atlanta icon Willie B. His four sisters have also made contributions to the survival of their species with three remaining at Zoo Atlanta, Kudzoo, Sukari, and Lulu while a fourth, Olympia has moved to another zoo accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

“The Willie B. legacy is a uniquely Atlanta tradition. Generations of Atlantans grew up with Willie B. and later his children and grandchildren, making connections not only with gorillas but also with a story that has become symbolic of the evolution of Zoo Atlanta,” said Raymond B. King, President and CEO. “We are thrilled to see that legacy continue and to welcome a newborn ambassador for a critically endangered species.”

Willie B. Jr. only recently joined his troop which includes Shalia, the mother of this infant and two other females, Kambera and Amari. Willie B., Jr. and Shalia were recommended to breed by the AZA Gorilla Species Survival Plan® (SSP), which seeks to maintain self-sustaining, genetically diverse gorilla populations in accredited zoos.

Guests visiting Zoo Atlanta may be able to catch their own glimpse of the infant in habitat 4 at the Ford African Rain Forest.

Zoo Atlanta undertake research which improves the lives of gorillas both in captivity in the wild. Western lowland gorillas are increasingly threatened by habitat loss, poaching, illegal hunting for the bushmeat trade, and emerging diseases. Some populations have reduced by as much as 60 percent.

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Western lowland gorillas are considered to be highly intelligent. They have been observed using a wide range of tools and one was taught to make over 1000 signs allowing her to communicate with humans.

Image: © Zoo Atlanta/ Jodi Carrigan

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