Thursday, May 08, 2008

New gorilla born at Woodland Park Zoo

Born Saturday, October 20, 2007
The baby gorilla's new name is Uzumma, an Igbo word which means "bringer of joy."

A western lowland gorilla was born Saturday about 3:30 a.m. (PST) at Woodland Park Zoo. The newborn represents the twelfth successful gorilla birth for the zoo and the third offspring between 37-year-old Amanda(picture at left) and the father, 28-year-old Vip.(picture at right) The infant is a female.
According to gorilla keeper staff, Amanda is showing excellent maternal care. “She’s holding the infant close and keeping her warm, fed and clean, all expected behaviors of a healthy mother gorilla,” said General Curator Dr. Nancy Hawkes. “And the infant is gripping her mother firmly, nursing and vocalizing, all signs of being healthy. There is a very strong maternal-infant bond.” All the gorillas in the group are very interested in the newborn, especially Amanda and Vip’s other two daughters, 9-year-old Ngozi and 5-year-old Calaya.

The gorilla birth is significant for the Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP) because Amanda is a “founder” animal, meaning she was born in the wild, and Vip has only two other relatives outside of Woodland Park Zoo. These combined factors make the baby gorilla’s genes particularly valuable to the zoo population in North America.

The group’s access outside into their exhibit and visitor viewing of mother and baby will be dependent on outdoor temperatures.

The Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP) is among 33 SSPs that Woodland Park Zoo participates in, including the Asian elephant, Aruba Island rattlesnake, red-crowned crane and orangutan. Under the auspices of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), the cooperative breeding programs work to ensure genetic diversity and demographic stability in North American zoos and aquariums. Additionally, SSPs involve a variety of other collaborative conservation activities such as research, public education, reintroduction and field projects. AZA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, education, science, and recreation, with more than 210 zoos and aquariums as members.

Source: Woodland Park Zoo