La Palmyre Zoo is thrilled to welcome a newborn gorilla! On January 20, after a gestation period of 8 months, our 18-year-old female western lowland gorilla Ybana gave birth to a healthy baby (this is the third baby for Ybana who is the only adult female of the group).
The birth occurred in the middle of the day, within the gorilla group and went perfectly well. Our two subadults (specially the sister of the newcomer) show a keen interest in the newborn (a male) but keep their distance with Ybana who provides very good care for the baby and protects it from the others.
Shortly after the birth, the baby gorilla clings tightly to its mother’s fur using its hands and feet. During the first 6 months, the infant is in constant body contact with its mother who carries it in a ventro-ventral fashion. At 4 to 6 months, the baby has gained mobility and spends more time on its mothers’ back. As it makes transition to independence (from 3 to 6 years old), it will spend most of its time playing with other group members, including siblings, and will improve its social skills.
Western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) remain highly threatened in the wild by habitat destruction and fragmentation. Poaching and diseases (specially the Ebola virus) are also major dangers for the species in the western part of its range. Added to these threats their low reproductive rate (a female gives birth to a baby every 4 or 5 years) make them difficult to recover quickly from severe decline. It is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List.
The whole group is currently under close monitoring as the baby remains fragile during the first weeks of its life. Here are some pictures and videos recorded a few minutes after the birth and the following days.