Woodland Park Zoo is preparing to welcome a new member to their gorilla family! Nadir (pictured), a 19-year-old western lowland gorilla, is pregnant for the first time and is set to give birth in early November.
The excited father-to-be is 36-year-old Vip, who has sired four other offspring with two different companions at the zoo.
Due to the fact that Nadiri is not an experienced mother, the Woodland Park Zoo animal management staff are taking extra precautions to prepare her for a successful birth and for motherhood.
“What we’re hoping to see is that Nadiri delivers a healthy offspring, provides strong maternal care and raises her baby successfully,” says Martin Ramirez, mammal curator at Woodland Park Zoo, “however, we also have to prepare for other scenarios.”
There is a possibility that Nadiri could reject her baby or will be unable to provide proper maternal care. If any of these unexpected issues arise, the zoo will explore options such as partial hand-rearing or identifying a surrogate mother gorilla at another zoo accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA).
“The first 72 hours are the most critical for a newborn gorilla. The gorilla keepers will keep a very close watch to ensure that Nadiri and her baby bond, the infant is nursing properly and receiving adequate milk, and Nadiri holds her baby close and keeps it sufficiently warm,” says Ramirez.
According to the team at Woodland Park Zoo, the Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP) recommends it is in the best interest of baby gorillas to be raised by a dynamic group of gorillas rather than being hand raised by humans. The Gorilla SSP is a cooperative breeding program that helps to ensure a healthy, self-sustaining population of gorillas for the next 100 years.
In terms of pre-natal care, Nadiri is being well taken care of and is on a diet created by a nutritionist and takes supplemental vitamins to help her maintain a healthy weight for a normal delivery.
Nadiri’s own father, Congo, was born in the wild and, therefore, was a “founder” animal for the Gorilla SSP population. Congo had no other known representatives in the population of gorillas in AZA zoos, making Nadiri his sole survivor. Her baby will contribute his valuable genetic line to the Gorilla SSP population.
Sadly, Nadiri’s entry into the world was fraught with difficulty back in 1996 after her mother, Jumoke, did not show any interest in accepting her and her father Congo passed away two weeks after her birth. The sad turn of events captured the interest and hearts of the local community and Zoo staff and volunteers provided round-the-clock care for Nadiri to ensure her survival.
The Woodland Park Zoo team are keenly awaiting the new arrival and are excited for Nadiri to experience motherhood herself. The My Ballard team will update readers with more information once the little one is born.
Photo courtesy of Woodland Park Zoo. Credit – Mat Hayward.