Dublin Zoo announces birth of adorable baby gorilla

Dublin Zoo announces birth of adorable baby gorilla

DUBLIN ZOO is celebrating the arrival of a baby western lowland gorilla, and it's beyond adorable.

The healthy infant was born to first-time mother Kafi and father Bangui on April 1, weighing around 2-2.5kg (4.5-5.5lbs).

Zookeepers have so far been unable to determine the gender of the baby, as Kafi has been keeping her child close to her chest since her eight-and-a-half month pregnancy came to an end.

The youngster's birth marks the first offspring of Bangui since his arrival at Dublin Zoo last year, and Kafi's first ever.

So far, the parents and their newborn have been kept in isolation from the rest of the gorilla troop but the trio will be back for visitors to see from Tuesday.

The zoo is hoping to hold a naming competition in the coming weeks once the baby is settled in and their gender is known.

Helen Clarke-Bennett, Team Leader of the African Plains at Dublin Zoo, said: "Kafi is doing a fantastic job so far as a first-time mother, keeping the young baby physically close in these crucial early stages.

"Bangui is proving to be an attentive father and at night has been sleeping close to Kafi and the baby.

"Kafi seems comfortable and at ease and we expect her to mix with the rest of the gorilla troop very soon."

Helen said Kafi, who arrived at Dublin Zoo in 2012, had witnessed other female gorillas give birth and nurse their young, and that had been a help in teaching her how to look after her own baby.

"This new birth is a great step forward for this critically endangered species," she added.

Bangui arrived at Dublin Zoo in 2018 following the death of long-time alpha-male silverback Harry.

Bangui was quickly accepted as the new alpha-male of the troop and has begun his transformation into a silverback gorilla.

Last August, Dublin Zoo said it was "extremely saddened" at the death of one of its most beloved western lowland gorillas, Lena.

The 35-year-old gave birth seven times since her arrival in 1988, and had her most recent baby in 2016 with the late Harry.

The new infant is the 11th gorilla to be born in captivity at the zoo since it began a special breeding programme in the 1980s.

Sadly, it is estimated that the numbers of gorillas worldwide will become unviable within 30 years unless the current rate of decline is halted.

"The huge issue for gorillas is deforestation in central Africa," Helen explained.

"Roads have gone in and it has made it easier for poachers to go in and they are spreading disease such as Ebola."

Dublin Zoo said they hope Kafi and Bangui's new child will be the first of many.