The Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo celebrated the successful birth of a brand new western lowland gorilla at the zoo on the afternoon of May 24.
The birth was the first live birth for mother Yewande, who has been on baby watch for the past several months. The troop’s silverback gorilla Jasiri was the newborn’s father.
The zoo said that the animal care team is cautiously optimistic about the birth, and are encouraged by the great early mothering skills shown by Yewande.
“It warms our hearts to see Yewande settling into a motherhood role. We couldn’t be more thrilled about the successful birth of this infant,” said Kim Walker, Animal Care Manager South America/Rainforest at the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo.
“Yewande and the baby are doing well and we’ve closed the building to give the troop some privacy as they get acquainted with their newest family member.”
Among those things that the care team is monitoring for is the strength of the baby to hold on to Yewande, for it to seek milk and reactions from the rest of the troop to the new infant. So far, signs have been positive in all regards said the zoo.
Rainforest building temporarily closed
Walker said that the animal care team will be continuing to monitor the troop but from a distance.
Alison Archambault, Director for Brand and Engagement for the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo said that the troop would provide the clues as to when they are ready to receive visitors again.
“The gorilla team is carefully watching to make sure that the troop is demonstrating a comfort level, and what we’ve seen in the past really is that the troop misses having our visitors around.”
“As much as we love to admire them and to interact with them, they also seem to to enjoy having visitors around, so we will reopen the building just as soon as we can.”
Archambault said that the zoo would keep the public updated as to the gender of the new infant through the zoo’s social media channels and on its website.
“It isn’t uncommon for us not to know the gender of the newest additions of the zoo,” she said.
“We take a hands-off approach, so if mom is doing what mom’s supposed to do, which Yewande is doing just a wonderful job of mothering, we remain hands-off.”
Baby to be named later this year
Archambault said that the zoo had reached out to their partners at the Nigeria Conservation Foundation, which works to preserve western lowland gorillas, to shortlist a selection of culturally-appropriate names for the new baby.
“The animals that we love and care for represent endangered species from places all over the world. While we’re lucky to love and care for them on the zoo property, we acknowledge that there are indigenous people and communities that have loved those species and served those species for time immemorial,” she said.
“We want to make sure that we honour the Indigenous communities, the geography and the surrounding area where those endangered species are from by naming the animals in our care appropriately.”
That partnership led to the naming of baby Eyare last year.
A total of 11 gorillas have been born at the zoo, and the troop currently consists of six members. Yewande (15) was born at the Calgary Zoo in 2008, Jasiri (24) was born at the Atlanta Zoo in 1998, Zuri (26) was born at Cheyenne Mountain Zoological Park in 1996, Kioja (21) was born at the Bronx Zoo in 2001, Dossi (21) was born at the Bronx Zoo in 2001, and Eyare (1) was born in 2022 at the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo.
For more information on the gorilla troop, see www.calgaryzoo.com.