LOS ANGELES (CNS) — The first baby gorilla to be born at the Los Angeles Zoo in 20 years is a female, who has yet to be named, zoo officials announced Monday, Feb. 10.
First-time mother N’djia, 25, gave birth on Jan. 18. The western lowland gorilla baby’s dad is Kelly, 32.
“The last few weeks have been so exciting watching first-time mom N’djia with her new baby,’’ said Beth Schaefer, the director of animal programs at the zoo. “Having gorillas in our zoo is so important so we can connect Angelenos to the amazing biodiversity that exists on this planet and to help ensure that these beings will never go extinct.”
For the next four to six months, guests can expect to see the baby clinging to N’djia while nursing and observing her surroundings. Gorilla infants typically weigh about three to four pounds at birth and grow quickly.
“Every birth is a celebration, both in zoos and in the wild,”said Candace Sclimenti, the zoo’s curator of mammals. “We are thrilled about this baby because she will provide additional attention to this critically endangered species.”
N’djia will carry her baby until she is strong enough to hang on her mother’s back. Kelly is expected to provide a watchful eye over N’djia and their baby girl while the rest of the gorillas observe and remain at a “respectful distance,” zoo officials said.
N’djia came to the zoo in 2018 from the San Diego Zoo as part of a breeding recommendation through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan Program.
Western lowland gorillas are currently considered critically endangered in the wild due to illegal hunting, susceptibility to diseases such as the Ebola virus and habitat degradation and destruction.
Although killing, capturing and consuming great apes is illegal, hunting for bushmeat is the primary reason for the western lowland gorilla’s decline.
The species is native to the lowlands and swamp forests of Cameroon, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon and Angola. They are peaceful, social animals that live in stable, cohesive groups composed of one silverback adult male, several adult females and their offspring.