The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo has much to celebrate after two baby western lowland gorillas were born.
Julia, a 33-year-old gorilla, gave birth on March 10th, while 19-year-old Tuti gave birth on April 17 per Discovery News. Both baby gorillas have the same father, Ernie, a 31-year-old gorilla. The mothers have both successfully reared babies before; prior to their recent births. Julia had two babies sand Tuti had one.
The newborns are part of a cooperative breeding program to enhance genetic viability of zoo animals. The two gorilla babies are the first gorillas to be born at the Bronx Zoo since 2006. The babies also represent the 14th and 15th born at the zoo’s Congo Gorilla Forest exhibit since it first opened in 1991. A staggering fifty gorillas have been born at the Bronx Zoo since 1972.
Currently, the zoo cares for 20 gorillas – the largest group of these kind of apes in North America.
Gorillas have a gestation period of 8.5 months, and babies weigh approximately 4 to 5 pounds (1.8 to 2.3 kilograms) at birth. Mother gorillas hold their baby until it is 4 months old. Babies start eating solid food at 6 months, but continue nursing until they are 3 or 4 years old.
Westland lowland gorillas are critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In the wild, the animals live in tropical and subtropical forests in equatorial Africa. They are mostly vegetarian, eating fruits, some insects, and plants. They spend most of their time on the ground, but are also known for their climbing skills.
The newest additions to the Bronx zoo, will be on display for the world to see at the zoo this spring, but whether visitors will be able to see them is contingent upon the weather and other factors. The genders of the babies are unknown at this time.