CINCINNATI, OH (August 4, 2014) –“Asha”, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s eleven-year-old Western Lowland gorilla has given birth to her first baby! On Monday, August 4, at 8:15 a.m. Asha delivered a healthy, approximately 5-pound, baby in her indoor stall. Asha and the baby will be spending time bonding indoors, but if mom and baby continue to do well (and weather cooperates), the pair should be outside soon. The Zoo will continue to post updates on its website, Facebook page, and on Twitter, using #babygorilla, with important announcements, images, and milestones.
“Because Asha is being such a good mom, holding this little one close, nursing, and gently cleaning the baby, we have not yet been able to determine the sex,” said Thane Maynard, Executive Director at the Cincinnati Zoo. “The baby appears very healthy, strong, and active and we could not be more pleased with how Asha is handling her new role as mom.”
The Cincinnati Zoo is now home to nine Western Lowland gorillas, including the father, silverback Jomo, and the rest of his family – Samantha, M’Linzi, Anju, and Gladys. This is the 49th baby gorilla born at the Cincinnati Zoo, continuing long and rich history with this species. This is Jomo’s second baby, his first being Bakari, a male gorilla that was born on August 13, 2006.
”I am a lucky guy. I have had the very rare privilege to work with the gorillas at the Cincinnati zoo for almost 30 years and have been present for many great events, including dozens of births,” said Ron Evans, Curator of Primates at the Cincinnati Zoo. “However, this baby is very special as it marks the rebirth of the Cincinnati Zoo’s gorilla propagation program after an eight year intentional hiatus. It signifies our Zoo’s continuous and long-term commitment to global gorilla conservation efforts, and I am looking forward to watching this little one grow up, along with everyone else in the community.”
There are about 765 gorillas in zoos worldwide including approximately 360 in the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Program (SSP) for this species. Western lowland gorillas are critically endangered in the wild, with less than 175,000 individuals. Due primarily to habitat destruction caused by logging, mineral mining and agricultural expansion, wild gorilla numbers continue to shrink. The bushmeat trade – the killing of wild animals to be used as human food – is also a major threat to the western lowland gorilla population throughout the Central African rainforests. Over 1,000 gorillas are illegally poached for the bushmeat trade each year. The Cincinnati Zoo supports wild gorilla conservation efforts like the Mbeli Bai Study in Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in the Republic of Congo. The Mbeli Bai Study is the longest running research being done with wild western lowland gorillas. Through research, local education programs, publications and documentaries, the Mbeli Bai Study is raising international awareness for gorillas and their struggle for survival. For more information, visit www.cincinnatizoo.org.