Calgary Zoo Welcomes Baby Gorilla
First-time mom Kioja taking well to her new role
Kennedy Enns, Staff Writer
On the evening of March 8 the Calgary Zoo welcomed its first baby gorilla in eight years.
New mom Kioja and other members of the troop were put into baby boot camp to prepare for the new arrival. Kioja herself was partly raised by zookeepers and had never observed another baby grow up in a troop. Zookeepers were anxious about her mothering tendencies due to her inexperience. In preparation for the baby Kioja was trained to hold and feed a handmade “dummy baby” named Chucky.
All of the hard work paid off when she went into labour Wednesday night.
Due to the possessive nature of new mothers, zookeepers won’t know the gender of the new baby for at least a few weeks, but gender doesn’t matter when the baby is happy and healthy.
Kioja and the unnamed baby have bonded nicely and zookeepers are happy with how well Kioja has taken to being a mother.
A newborn gorilla is incredibly important for the captive population as it’s estimated there are fewer than 100,000 left in the wild. All western lowland gorillas at the Calgary Zoo are part of the Species Survival Plan which aims to help ensure the survival of species that are threatened or endangered in the wild. With only 350 or so western lowland gorillas in the North American captive population, every new addition counts.
To give the mom and new baby some rest the TransAlta Rainforest building won’t reopen to visitors until next week.