Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Zoo keepers discover newborn gorilla's a little lady

By Linda Stewart

Keepers at Belfast Zoo have discovered that the baby gorilla born on Mothering Sunday is a girl – and have named her Kibibi.

It's been 16 years since her mum Kamili last had a baby and she was so protective that it was months before the keepers were able to ascertain the baby's gender.

Western lowland gorilla Kamili gave birth on Sunday, March 30 and for many weeks the infant clung to her mother's stomach.

Yesterday Belfast Zoo said: "After weeks of patiently waiting, the zoo can now announce that the infant is a girl and, after much consideration, she has been named 'Kibibi' which means 'little lady' in Swahili."

This is the second arrival at the gorilla house in eight months as Baako, who was the first baby gorilla to be born at the zoo in 16 years, was born on August 3, 2013.

It was thought at one point that silverback male Gugas would never father any young. Zoo curator Julie Mansell said: "Kibibi is the second arrival within the last year for dad, Gugas, and she is the first girl.

"In 2012, with no sign of pregnancies, we tested Gugas's fertility and the results were not promising. In fact, we feared that Gugas would never father any young. We are delighted that he has proven us all wrong with the arrival of Kibibi and Baako in the last year."

Julie said it is 16 years since Kamili had her last baby and she has been very protective with this one.

"She has been so protective, keeping her very close, that we haven't been able to find out what gender the baby was," she said.

"Another female, Kwanza, gave birth to Baako last August and he is a real livewire, exploring the enclosure and playing with his dad.

"As soon as Kamili does let the other baby go and explore, she will have an absolute ball with her half brother. At the moment she is trying to explore stuff and is wanting to leave her mum, but Kamili is very protective and is holding her pretty tight.

"Kwanza and Kamili were best friends before they became pregnant.

"Kwanza gave birth first so seeing her with her baby has refreshed old memories for Kamili."

Father Gugas was born in the wild but his parents were killed, probably for bushmeat.

As a young orphaned gorilla, he was acquired by a Portuguese circus and became very ill.

He was abandoned at the gates of Lisbon Zoo and was then moved to Stuttgart Zoo to live in a nursery group for orphaned gorillas.

Gugas arrived at Belfast Zoo in 1998 and is genetically very important to the European breeding programme as, until last year, he was not represented in the zoo population.

Belfast Telegraph


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