MYNORTHWEST NEWS

Woodland Park Zoo shares ultrasound pictures of popular animal for the first time

May 26, 2024, 6:31 PM | Updated: 6:35 pm

Photo: Ultrasound of Akenji's baby. Akenji is a gorilla at the Woodland Park Zoo....

Ultrasound of Akenji's baby. Akenji is a gorilla at the Woodland Park Zoo. (Photo courtesy of the Woodland Park Zoo)

(Photo courtesy of the Woodland Park Zoo)

For the first time in its 125-year history, the Woodland Park Zoo has shared gorilla ultrasound pictures.

Photo: Ultrasound of Akenji's baby. Akenji is a gorilla at the Woodland Park Zoo.

Ultrasound of Akenji’s baby. Akenji is a gorilla at the Woodland Park Zoo. (Photo courtesy of the Woodland Park Zoo)

“The ultrasound images are key in tracking fetal development. We can visualize limb movement and cardiac function and get measurements to monitor growth. The images indicate normal development thus far,” Dr. Yousuf Jafarey, an associate veterinarian at Woodland Park Zoo, said in a news release.

According to the zoo, the gestation period for gorillas is eight to nine months. The zoo also stated that the ultrasound pictures were possible because of thorough training sessions with the mother Akenji

Photo: Akenji in 2019.

Akenji in 2019. (Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren via the Woodland Park Zoo)

“Because of the trusting relationship we have built with the gorillas, we have been able to train Akenji to sit near the front of her bedroom facing us and within our reach,” Stephanie Payne Jacobs, a gorilla keeper at Woodland Park Zoo said in the news release. “Her cooperation allows us to apply the ultrasound probe on her belly and the results help us check the baby’s development.”

Just like for human women, the procedure is non-invasive, painless and safe. Further, Akenji has the choice to participate or not. We follow her cues,” she continued.

Photo: Ultrasound of Akenji's baby. Akenji is a gorilla at the Woodland Park Zoo.

Ultrasound of Akenji’s baby. Akenji is a gorilla at the Woodland Park Zoo. (Photo courtesy of the Woodland Park Zoo)

The news release also noted that the pre-natal care program for gorillas includes regular veterinary check-ups, a special diet created by a nutritionist and supplemental vitamins to help Akenji maintain a healthy weight for delivery.

The zoo first announced that Akenji was pregnant in March. The baby will be 22-year-old Akenji’s first and its father Kwame’s third.

More here: Local zoo announces pregnant gorilla with positive test

Kwame, 24, is the father of the last two gorillas born at the zoo. His son Kitoko was born in March 2020 and his daughter Zuna was born in January 2021.

However, those also wanting to be a gorilla parent can do so digitally. To become a ZooParent, visit the Woodland Park Zoo’s website.

As for how Akenji is feeling about motherhood, a zoo spokesperson told MyNorthwest she’s doing well.

“Akenji is a little more tired than usual, but the pregnancy is progressing very well. Our veterinarian is very pleased with the fetus development. We’re so excited and can’t wait for this new baby gorilla!” the spokesperson told MyNorthwest via email.

To plan a visit to see the gorillas, go here.

Julia Dallas is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read her stories here. Follow Julia on X, formerly known as Twitter, here and email her here.

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