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Baby watch begins for gorilla at Woodland Park Zoo

Nadiri is in the final days of her second pregnancy. (Photo courtesy of Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo)

Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo is officially on baby watch, preparing to welcome a new baby gorilla within the next month.

Baby gorilla on the way at Woodland Park Zoo

Nadiri, a 24-year-old western lowland gorilla, is due to give birth in late January or early February. The baby will be the second birth for Nadiri, who gave birth to Yola in 2015. Since it’s not known exactly when she became pregnant, the zoo says it’s difficult to pinpoint a specific due date.

A gorilla’s pregnancy usually lasts eight or nine months, similar to the gestation period for humans.

Zoo volunteers will monitor cameras to collect data and watch for behavioral changes that could indicate the onset of labor. A gorilla keeper is always on call in case Nadiri goes into labor in the “wee hours,” as the zoo blog says, during the overnight shift. The monitoring will continue until the baby is born.

Once Nadiri gives birth, the baby will be a half-sister or brother for both Kitoko — born in March 2020 — and 5-year-old Yola.

Kwame, 21, dad of the new baby, fathered Kitoko with 13-year-old Uzumma last March. The newborn will be both Kwame and Nadiri’s second child, but the first together. Yola’s father is Vip.

“Because Nadiri was partially human-raised as an infant and had no experience as a mom, she didn’t know what to do when she gave birth back in 2015,” the zoo blog says. “That means Yola’s first months were spent in the care of her dedicated keepers who constantly stayed in close proximity to Nadiri. Slowly but surely, they helped Nadiri bond with her baby while her maternal instincts kicked in — ultimately allowing both of them to be fully integrated back into the gorilla family.”

As an experienced mom, keepers at the zoo are confident she’ll know just what to do this time, but they say they’re prepared for every possible scenario. Kwame is also an experienced dad now, and the zoo writes that he’s “proven himself to be a gentle, playful and patient father” to nearly 1-year-old Kitoko.

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