On Father’s Day, Miami Metro Zoo keepers were greeted with a pleasant surprise when they arrived to work: a newborn western lowland gorilla! The new baby, whose sex is still to be determined, was born to mother Kumbuka, 14 years old, and father JJ, 32 years old.
While zookeepers in San Francisco were training a surrogate mother for the abandoned western lowland gorilla born there last month, another baby gorilla was born at the National Zoo in Washington, DC. The newborn arrived in full view of spectators and a zookeeper last weekend.
In the wild, western lowland gorillas inhabit West and Central Africa where they are critically endangered.
San Francisco zookeepers are currently training Bawang, a proven mother, to care for the baby gorilla born in December of last year. The baby’s mother, Monifa, had abandoned the little one shortly after his birth and took no interest in tending to him.
According to Corrine MacDonald, curator of primates at the San Francisco Zoo, “Teaching Bawang to be a surrogate mom is no easy task and it’s going to take a lot of time and patience. She is an incredibly intelligent gorilla and all of us are committed to bringing these two together and ensuring this infant becomes a beloved member of the troop.”
Monifa, Bawang, and the infant are western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla), which are critically endangered in the wild.
For more information about the baby gorilla, see: NBC Bay Area’s “They Found a Mother Who Could Love This Face.”