Critically-Endangered Western Lowland Gorilla Gives Birth At London Zoo
The birth is good news for a population that, according to experts, would take 75 years to fully recover, even with all current threats eliminated.
Meet Mjukuu, the proud mother of a gorilla whose birth was discovered Dec. 10 at the London Zoo.
Mjukuu, who is 15, gave birth to the gorilla overnight Dec. 9 after an 8 and a half month pregnancy, the London Zoo announced.
The birth is particularly exciting for zookeepers since the baby adds to a "critically-endangered" Western lowland gorilla population.
While the exact number of Western lowland gorillas in the wild isn't known (they inhabit some extremely dense and remote rainforests in Africa), researchers say their numbers have declined by more than 60% over the last two decades or so — mostly because of poaching and disease.
Even if all of the threats to the gorillas were removed, scientists calculate that the population would require some 75 years to recover, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
"Western-lowland gorillas are critically endangered in the wild, so this infant is a really important addition not only to the zoo, but for the European conservation breeding program," gorilla keeper Daniel Simmonds said in statement.
The London Zoo described Mjukuu as tired, but doing well after the birth.
"We are thrilled with the birth of a baby gorilla here at ZSL London Zoo and mum and infant are both doing really well," Simmonds said, adding that Mjukuu gave birth "surrounded by the rest of the troop – who all seem very pleased, and quite intrigued, by the new arrival."
The infant is the first offspring of the zoo's silverback male Kumbuka.
Kumbuka quickly settled in to life as group leader at the London Zoo after arriving from Paignton Zoo in May 2013, his zookeepers said.
And apparently it wasn't long before Mjukuu caught his eye. Less than a year after his arrival, she was pregnant with his child, the zoo said.
The gorilla was scheduled to be closed to the public for the next few days to allow the gorillas to get acquainted with the new arrival, who has yet to be named.