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Healthy baby girl gorilla born at Woodland Park Zoo

A healthy baby girl gorilla was born at Woodland Park Zoo on Jan. 29, 2021. (Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo)

The Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle has welcomed the newest (and littlest) member of the western lowland gorilla family.

Mom Nadiri, 24, gave birth to a healthy baby girl at 10:25 a.m. on Jan. 29, 2021. The newborn is the second baby for Nadiri, and the first between her and 21-year-old dad Kwame. Nadiri’s firstborn is 5-year-old Yola.

The new baby is the second gorilla born at Woodland Park Zoo within a year after baby boy Kitoko was born in March 2020 to mom Uzumma and dad Kwame.

Shortly after the birth over the weekend, zoo staff placed the baby under round-the-clock care because Nadiri had not yet picked up her baby to nurse or keep her warm enough. Staff are nourishing the baby by bottle, keeping her warm, and providing short visits with her mom, according to the zoo’s blog.

Woodland Park Zoo says the first 72 hours are the most critical for newborn gorillas, and they report that the baby is doing well.

“We will continue to provide hands-on care while keeping the baby in close proximity to Nadiri 24/7 and attempting to reintroduce her to mom,” said Martin Ramirez, mammal curator at Woodland Park Zoo.

“We will continue to introduce Nadiri to her baby,” Ramirez added. “She is staying close and has picked up her baby for short periods over the weekend, but has not shown any interest in nursing her. By doing short introduction sessions frequently throughout each day, we hope her maternal instinct will soon kick in.”

Nadiri was partially human-raised as an infant and had no experience as a mom before Yola, so she did not know what to do when she gave birth five years ago. Because of that, Yola spent her first several months under constant care of keepers and veterinary staff while interacting daily with Nadiri. The new mom’s maternal instincts did eventually engage, the zoo says, and Yola, Nadiri, and the other family members were reunited.

“We had worked with Nadiri to prepare for this moment and were optimistic this time around that Nadiri would pick up her baby and show maternal care. However, while Nadiri periodically touched her baby just after giving birth, she never picked up her newborn the first day,” Ramirez said.

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The newborn weighs 4.9 pounds. The average weight for a gorilla at birth is 4 pounds, “so she’s within the norm,” the zoo writes in its blog.

For now, Nadiri and her group will remain in the off-view dens. The baby does not yet have a name.

Read more updates about Woodland Park Zoo’s baby gorillas on the “Growing Up Gorilla” blog here.

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