Rare Western Lowland gorilla born in Chicago zoo

Baby will remain under close supervision for first few crucial weeks

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The Independent US

A rare Western Lowland gorilla has been born in a US zoo - and she’s already attracting fans.

Staff at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo welcomed the female Western Lowland gorilla, born to mother Bahati, on 25 February but were only granted their first sight of the tiny animal over the weekend.

Nestled in her mother’s arms, the as yet unnamed baby and her mother are reported to be doing well, although they will remain under close supervision from zookeepers as proper bonding between mother and child are particularly important to gorillas’ development.

Bahati, 27, and father Kwan, 25, are among six Lowland gorillas at the zoo, including her half-sisters Nayembi and Patty, who were also born at the zoo.

“As with any birth, we are cautiously optimistic about the latest arrival. Bahati is an experienced mother whose maternal instincts are what we would hope to see with a newborn gorilla,” the curator of primates Maureen Leahy told the Chicagoist.

Lowland gorillas live in heavy rain forests and it has been difficult for conservationists and scientists to estimate how many survive in the wild.

Their natural habitats in place such as Cameroon, Central African Republic, Gabon or Angola are threatened by destruction, and the animals are also hunted by poachers.

At birth the gorillas weigh as little as four pounds, able only to cling to their mother’s fur, but adults measure in at around 400 pounds, and can stand 6ft tall.

Female gorillas carry their babies for an average of nine months, carrying their children on their backs until they are around two or three. Afterwards, young gorillas spend years playing, climbing trees and swinging from branches – developing many of the skills that enable them to survive in later years.