The zoo officials said that they were cautiously optimistic about the baby gorilla’s chances once it was born November 16. They had been monitoring the mother and baby carefully, and only publicly announced and showed the infant this past week. However, when zookeepers arrived at the zoo on Friday morning, they found Bana carrying the body of her deceased infant.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the mourning behavior of gorillas is well known. They allowed Bana to continue to carry the infant around and to come to terms with what happened. At that point they removed the baby’s body. Later, a necropsy will be performed to try and determine what happened to cause the baby’s death.
Western lowland gorillas are very rare and endangered. It was the first baby gorilla born at the zoo since 2005. Bana, who is a first time mother, had been paired up with a silverback gorilla named Kwan. They appeared to take to the matchmaking and zoo officials celebrated with Bana was found to be pregnant.
Officials say that Bana appeared to have adjusted well to carrying the infant and to breast feeding. They also announced that Kwan had appeared to be quite proud and protective of mother and baby. The zoo had closed off visitors to the gorilla house when the baby was born November 16. Just this past week the announcement of the infant and a re-opening of the exhibit had occurred.
The baby was the 49th gorilla born at the Lincoln Park Zoo.
UPDATE: Officials from the Lincoln Park Zoo have announced that it appears as if the baby gorilla died from blunt trauma to the head. No further determinations about what might have caused it have been made.