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London Zoo welcomes another endangered baby gorilla

February 14, 2024

London Zoo has announced the birth of a second western lowland gorilla, less than a month after it welcomed another of the critically endangered subspecies.

The mother, Effie, with her newborn at the London Zoo
The infant was born at the conservation zoo to mum Effie at 7:44pm on Thursday 8 FebruaryImage: Cover-Images/IMAGO

London Zoo announced the arrival of a second endangered western lowland gorilla baby on Tuesday.

The infant, who was born to mother Effie on February 8 and is yet to be named, arrives just three and a half weeks after another western lowland gorilla was born at the zoo.

Both arrivals boost numbers of a subspecies that is critically endangered. While the exact numbers of lowland gorillas in the wild are unknown, their numbers are thought to have declined by around 60% in the last 25 years.

Western lowland gorillas can be distinguished from other gorilla subspecies by their slightly smaller size, their brown-grey coats and auburn chests, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

London Zoo welcomes a second critically endangered western lowland gorilla baby, seen here
The exact number of western lowland gorillas is not known because they inhabit some of the most dense and remote rainforests in AfricaImage: /Cover-Images/IMAGO

Difficult birth entangled in umbilical cord

The newborn, who joins an enclosure called Gorilla Kingdom, kept zookeepers on their toes as it was born wrapped in its umbilical cord.

The zoo said that staff maintainted constant vigil over the weekend in case the cord posed any risk to the new arrival.

The keepers were relieved to have found that the cord didn't create any issues and the "baby continued to feed and wriggle around, and it has now completely detached." 

The first baby gorilla was born at the zoo in January without complications to a different gorilla, Mjukuu. The two half-siblings were both silverback Kiburi.

Kiburi, who is 19 years old, arrived at the zoo from Spain's island of Tenerife in November 2022 as part of the conservation breeding program designed to ensure the preservation of a genetically diverse and healthy population of this gorilla subspecies.  

Staff say they're 'over the moon'

Primates section manager Kathryn Sanders said they were "over the moon" to have another western lowland gorilla infant born in the zoo.

Both were "an important to the conservation breeding programme for this endangered species, and just as importantly, great additions to our troop," she said.

"It was a huge relief to see baby feeding, moving normally and to get a glimpse of its bright eyes peeking out from mum’s arms," Sanders said.

"The two youngsters will now grow up side-by-side, much like their older siblings Alika and Gernot did – they'll love having a permanent playmate!"

The sex of the newborn has yet to be determined, with the zoo saying it will be confirmed later.

Roshni Majumdar Roshni is a writer at DW's online breaking news desk and covers stories from around the world.@RoshniMaj