Pictures of new baby gorilla released by Dublin Zoo

Keepers jubilant as gorillas are a critically endangered species

Keepers at Dublin Zoo have been unable to determine the gender of the infant as mother Kafi has been keeping the baby close to her chest since the birth. Photograph: Patrick Bolger

Keepers at Dublin Zoo have been unable to determine the gender of the infant as mother Kafi has been keeping the baby close to her chest since the birth. Photograph: Patrick Bolger

 

A new baby gorilla has been born at Dublin Zoo but it has yet be given a name.

The youngster arrived on April 1st and not as an April’s fools joke to first-time mother 12-year-old Kafi and nine-year-old father Bangui.

The baby gorilla has not been given a name because zookeepers have been unable to determine his or her sex.

The baby’s mother is keeping her offspring so close to her chest that it has not been possible yet to say if it is male or female.

Dublin Zoo is hoping to have a naming competition in the coming weeks and mother and baby will be available from Tuesday for visitors to see.

So far, mother, father and baby have been kept in isolation from the rest of the gorilla troop.

Keepers at Dublin Zoo have been unable to determine the gender of the infant as mother Kafi has been keeping the baby close to her chest since the birth. Photograph: Patrick Bolger
Keepers at Dublin Zoo have been unable to determine the gender of the infant as mother Kafi has been keeping the baby close to her chest since the birth. Photograph: Patrick Bolger

They are very much a family, according to Dublin Zoo’s Helen Clarke-Bennett, who is the team leader of the African Plains.

“Kafi is doing a fantastic job so far as a first-time mother, keeping the young baby physically close in these crucial early stages. Bangui is proving to be an attentive father and at night has been sleeping close to Kafi and the baby,” she said.

“Kafi seems comfortable and at ease and we expect her to mix with the rest of the gorilla troop very soon.”

She said Kafi, who arrived at Dublin Zoo in 2012, had witnessed other female gorillas give birth and nurse their young, and that had been a help in teaching her how to look after her own baby.

“This new birth is a great step forward for this critically endangered species,” she added.

It’s the 11th gorilla to be born in captivity in the zoo since a breeding programme began in the 1980s.

“The huge issue for gorillas is deforestation in central Africa. Roads have gone in and it has made it easier for poachers to go in and they are spreading disease such as Ebola,” she explained.

It is estimated that unless something changes, the numbers of gorillas will become unviable within 30 years.

Bangui came to Dublin Zoo in 2018 following the death of long-time alpha male ‘silverback’ Harry.

The term ‘silverback’ is used because of the silvery white hair on an alpha males’ back and hips.

Bangui was quickly accepted as the new alpha-male of the troop and has begun his transformation into a ‘silverback’ gorilla.

“It helps that he came from a very good social grouping. He has seen youngsters being born. It’s all very hopeful for settling in with our group. It’s a high-pressure job,” she said.

The zoo hopes his new offspring is the first of many.