Happy event in breeding program

photoA Very Important Primate arrived at Melbourne Zoo when western lowland gorilla Kimya delivered her firstborn in the Gorilla House night dens.

Zoo Director Kevin Tanner welcomed the first gorilla birth since 2000, the result of the international introduction of two young gorillas born on the opposite sides of the world thanks to the endangered species breeding program for western lowland gorillas.

The birth took place in the presence of the baby’s father Otana and the three older females in the group, Julia, G-Ann, and Yuska.

Otana and G-Ann showed the most interest in the birth and baby. Yuska, the first gorilla to give birth in Australia, chose to stay next door in her night den.

Keepers have had Kimya under constant observation for the last month.

Primate Department Manager Harna Burton said that at about 3pm they began to see behaviour which led them to think Kimya might be preparing to deliver.

The gorillas had all come into the night dens as usual by 5:30pm, and Kimya’s delivery proceeded quickly after that.

Keepers observed contractions, moving to three minute intervals.

The birth itself was normal, and Kimya picked the baby up and showed appropriate maternal behaviour. She passed the placenta soon after.

The new arrival is the first baby for both parents.

Kimya came from her birthplace at Taronga Zoo in October 2013 to join Otana as part of the breeding program for their endangered species. Otana had arrived a month earlier from Howlett’s Wild Animal Park in Kent, England.

“Our new arrival is the seventh gorilla to be born at Melbourne Zoo,” Tanner said.

“Australia’s first-ever gorilla baby was born here on June 3, 1984, when Yuska gave birth to Mzuri. When Mzuri’s father Rigo died in 2013, we brought Otana from the UK to become our new breeding male.”

Keepers have not yet been able to observe the sex of the baby.

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