There are many animal activists and environment specialists who are trying to save the lives of more than a dozen critically endangered species—facing threats due to climate change, an increase in poaching activities, and human-caused land development activities. Meanwhile, good news came from a zoon in New Orleans, after a critically endangered western lowland gorilla baby born this week.

The keepers of the zoo don't yet know the sex of the baby gorilla born on Friday, September 8 to 13-year-old Tumani and father Okpara, said Audubon Zoo spokeswoman Katie Smith. She also added that the mother gorilla has been demonstrating "excellent mothering behaviors." The baby was first noticed by the zookeepers on Friday morning.

Nurturing the Baby Gorilla

Gorilla baby
13-year-old Tumani and her newborn audubonnatureinstitute.org

The gorilla babies usually weigh around four pounds at birth. The photos released by the zoo have shown that Tumani is cuddling her tiny newborn while holding the baby in her arms without using her hands.

As per Smith gorilla mothers vary how they carry or hold their newborns, as some carry them similar to holding a football. She said that initially Tumani was keeping the baby close to her mouth to clean up but now "she is supporting it more on its backside and keeping it low so that it can nurse."

The zoo thought the due date would be a little bit late, but the keepers are not worried about the early birth of the endangered western lowland gorilla baby, since the dates were based on observed matings, reported AP News.

To make Tumani prepare for her baby and how to carry it, the zookeepers trained her by using a doll, made from firehose canvas.

The Critically Endangered Species

As per the World Wide Fund for Nature, the western lowland gorillas are among those several animals who are now counted as critically endangered species in the world. This species is known as the most numerous and widespread of all gorilla subspecies and can be found in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Equatorial Guinea as well as in large areas in Gabon and the Republic of Congo.

Even though the exact number of western lowland gorillas is not known as they inhabit some of the densest and remote rainforests in Africa, in 2007 they were declared critically endangered because of loss of habitation and deaths caused by the Ebola virus as well as poachers who killed them illegally for their meat.

baby gorilla
Western Lowland Gorilla baby audubonnatureinstitute.org

This baby gorilla in Audubon Zoo is at least the fourth western lowland gorilla born at a U.S. zoo in 2020. As per the reports, a female gorilla was born on January 18 at Los Angeles Zoo, a male baby was born in March at Woodland Park Zoo, and in August, a male baby gorilla was born at the Toledo Zoo.

However, as per the Audubon Zoo, its entire primate area will be closed when the mother gorilla Tumani and the entire troop bond with the newborn. It also said in a news release that the guests at the zoo can spot the gorilla baby by a small white patch of hair on its rump that helps mother gorillas keep track of infants and other group members in identifying the gorilla as an infant. The patch will fade away when the great ape attains the age of three to four years.