OKLAHOMA CITY - The pictures are so cute! The Oklahoma City Zoo has a new arrival!
The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden announced a male Western lowland gorilla was born early on June 19th inside the Great EscApe day room.
The baby gorilla was born to mother Ndjole and father Togo.
Weighing 4.4 pounds at birth, the newborn gorilla is in good health, zoo officials said.
However, despite multiple attempts, Ndjole has not displayed any signs of maternal care toward her baby since giving birth, and the OKC Zoo’s veterinarian and caretaker teams have made the decision to hand rear the infant.
“We gave Ndjole several opportunities to bond with her newborn within the first 24 hours but saw no signs that she was interested in caring for him,” said Robin Newby, assistant curator of primates. “Zoo animal care team members and trained volunteers will provide around-the-clock care in an off-exhibit area in Great EscApe as we continue to explore every option to reunite the infant with other gorillas.”
The Zoo’s veterinarian team and gorilla keepers will work with the Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP) through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to determine when the baby will be returned to a gorilla group or placed with a surrogate mother, even if that means relocating to another AZA-accredited zoo, the zoo stated in a press release.
Ndjole, a 22-year-old Western lowland gorilla, came to the zoo in 2010 from the San Diego Zoo.
She has previously birthed two offspring.
Her first, a male, Bouendje, 12, is a member of the zoo’s bachelor gorilla troop in Great EscApe.
Female Kamina, Ndjole's second offspring, was born at the OKC Zoo in 2014.
After being denied by her mother at the Oklahoma City Zoo, and yet again by a surrogate gorilla mother at the Cincinnati Zoo, Kamina finally found a surrogate mother to take her in at the Columbus Zoo where she currently resides.
Father Togo, a 29-year-old silverback Western lowland gorilla, arrived at the zoo in 2012 from the Como Park Zoo as part of a breeding recommendation made by the Gorilla SSP.
Togo’s gorilla family also includes females Mikella, Emily, Kelele and youngsters, Leom, Rubi and Azinza.
With this recent addition, the zoo continues its involvement in the Gorilla SSP.
One of the SSP's most important roles is to manage gorillas as a population to ensure that the population remains healthy, genetically-diverse and self-sustaining.
Native to the lowland forests of Central and Western Africa, Western lowland gorillas are critically endangered.
Commercial hunting for meat, habitat loss and disease are contributing factors to their status in the wild.
This recent addition marks the 27th gorilla born at the Oklahoma City Zoo since 1974, zoo officials said.