Asha, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo's 13-year-old western lowland gorilla, gave birth in the gorilla exhibit of the Zoo's Primate World building. There were no complications during the labor and birth and first - time mother Asha immediately picked up her newborn gorilla. Primate Supervisor Dina Bredahl says that they are quite confident that they have observed the newborn nursing on Asha.
To this point most of the observations of mother and baby have been made via television cameras and monitors, as the keeper staff does not want to disturb the mother, father Rafiki, or the other members of the gorilla troop. Rafiki has exhibited protective behavior to both the primate keepers and to the other gorillas in the troop. Because of this behavior Zoo staff has not attempted to photograph or make close visual inspection of the baby yet. As the day progresses the staff will attempt to approach Asha and the baby to insure everything is going well and to attempt to determine the gender of the newborn. This determination might not be accomplished for some weeks, depending on how protective Asha is with the little one.
"Asha and the baby are doing great. We are so excited that Asha is displaying such wonderful maternal behavior. She hasn't put the baby down since giving birth early this morning. We are continuing to monitor the situation, but our feelings that Asha would be a good mom are becoming fact. So far things couldn't be going better,"Â stated Supervisor Bredahl.
Zoo visitors will not be able to immediately view the new arrival as the Primate World building will remain closed for an undetermined amount of time while the gorillas and keeper staff adjust to the new arrival. The Zoo will announce within the next few days when the building will reopen, but that opening might not come for a week or more. Interested parties should continue to check the Zoo website for an announcement of the buildings' reopening.
Today's gorilla birth comes nearly one year after the birth of Umande, the male gorilla born on February 18, 2006 at the Zoo. Umande was hand-reared by Zoo staff and volunteers after his mother, Kwisha, did not care for him after birth. Umande was sent to the Columbus Zoo in October of 2006 to be united with his surrogate mother, Lulu, who now cares for him in Columbus. -- www.cmzoo.org
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