A critically endangered western lowland gorilla has been born at London Zoo.
Second-time mum Mjukuu gave birth to the tiny infant at 9:34 am on Wednesday 17 January, following an eight-and-a-half-month pregnancy and a speedy 17-minute labour.
Just moments after the birth, Mjukuu could be seen gently cradling her newborn – before allowing the gorilla troop’s curious youngsters Alika and Gernot to examine the new arrival.
London Zoo said the birth was a cause for celebration, as western lowland gorillas are classified as critically endangered due to poaching and disease.
Over the last 25 years, their wild numbers have declined by more than 60 percent.
Zookeepers were carrying out their usual morning duties when they first spotted that Mjukuu was in labor.
They decided to give her some space but still monitored her via CCTV cameras installed in the den.
London Zoo’s Primates Section Manager Kathryn Sanders explained: “We started our day as normal. We gave the gorillas their breakfast and began our cleaning routines.
“When we returned to their back dens, we could see Mjukuu was starting to stretch and squat – a sign that she was in labor.
“After a very quick labor, just 17 minutes, Mjukuu was spotted on camera tenderly holding her newborn and demonstrating her wonderful mothering instincts – cleaning her infant and checking it over.”
The infant was fathered by Kiburi, a western lowland gorilla who arrived at London Zoo from Tenerife in November 2022 as part of an international conservation breeding program.
The program aims to ensure the preservation of a genetically diverse and healthy population of western lowlands – a gorilla subspecies – in response to their decline.
Kathryn added: “To say we’re happy about this new arrival would be a huge understatement. We’ve all been walking around grinning from ear to ear.
“We’ll be giving mum and baby lots of time and space to get to know each other, and for the rest of the troop to get used to their new addition.
“They’re as excited as we are and can’t stop staring at the baby.”
Zookeepers are yet to confirm the sex of the infant, who has primarily remained cradled in its adoring mum’s arms.
If it is male, it could reach a height of up to 6 feet (1.83 m) , and if it is female, it could reach a height of 4 feet (1.22 m) .
The infant will remain in close contact with its mum Mjukuu for around the first six months of its life.
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
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