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Sunday, November 27, 2022
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Baby Gorilla Born at Fort Worth Zoo


Western lowland gorilla parents Gracie and Elmo welcomed a baby boy. | Image by NBC DFW

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Western lowland gorilla parents Gracie and Elmo welcomed a baby boy at the Fort Worth Zoo last week, becoming the second western lowland gorilla born at the zoo.

The baby does not yet have a name but is already getting introduced to the rest of his fellow primates at the zoo.

The Fort Worth baby gorilla is estimated to be somewhere between 4 and 5 pounds, which is the typical weight for a western lowland infant gorilla.

Western lowland gorillas are slightly smaller than other gorillas. They have brown-grey coats and auburn chests.

For the first four years of their lives, they will have a white patch of hair on their rump. This white patch is meant to help the mother and other adults in the group look after the little ones and identify them as infants.

Since the new gorilla is male, he will be much larger than the female western lowland gorilla, possibly weighing in as an adult at up 500 pounds and standing 6 feet tall, according to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. Female gorillas, on the other hand, weigh around 150-200 pounds and can be about 4.5 feet tall.

This subspecies of gorillas is categorized as critically endangered. Local to Central Africa, the western lowland gorilla population has declined by over 60% in the past two decades.

The factors contributing to this decline — poaching for their meat, the capture of their young to sell as pets, and the spread of diseases such as the Ebola virus — have affected all gorillas. Furthermore, the effects have been reportedly exacerbated by logging operations that have occurred in the once-remote forest areas where they reside.

Although a survey in 2018 found that there were around 360,000 western lowland gorillas in the wild — a third more than originally thought — there is still a concern since the vast majority of them are living on unprotected land.

Moreover, even if unthreatened, the gorilla population would require decades to recover their numbers due to the slow rate at which gorillas breed.

Therefore, the birth new birth of the western lowland gorilla has given the zoo cause to celebrate.

Visitors at the Fort Worth Zoo can already see the baby gorilla, including at the zoo’s upcoming 30th Anniversary Festival next weekend on November 19.

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