The Calgary Zoo is getting ready to welcome a baby gorilla to its family.
Fourteen-year-old female gorilla, Kioja, is expecting the arrival of her first baby in early March 2016, according to the Calgary Zoo.
“We are excited for this new addition to our gorilla troop as a baby is the best enrichment for the group,” says Calgary Zoo curator Dr. Malu Celli. “In the wild, gorillas are critically endangered and by adding another member to our troop we are continuing to ensure there is genetic diversity within captive populations and safeguard the long-term future of this species.”
The father of the anticipated baby is named Kakinga, who has nine other offspring. The zoo has been home to many gorillas for more than 50 years, and Kakinga is the current group’s most successful troop leader.
The baby will be the first of Kioja’s and the Calgary Zoo team is working to ensure the birth is successful. The process will integrate specialized training tools such as ultrasounds, behavioural analysis and close monitoring. It takes approximately nine months for a gorilla to be born, similar to the time frame seen in humans.
This is a milestone for Western lowland gorillas, whose species are endangered. Wild gorillas have experienced a loss of more than 80 per cent due to elevated levels of hunting and habitat loss. There are less than 100,000 left in the wild.
A Species Survival Plan is being used to ensure genetic diversity in captive populations for the purpose of preventing the extinction of gorillas. The Calgary Zoo is combating the problem through cell phone recycling. A mineral found within the phones is mined in areas that gorillas live.
The program reduces the need for cell phones by preserving ones that already exist. Calgary residents are encouraged to drop off their old cell phones to Guest Relations at the zoo to help support the program.
Stay updated on the arrival of Kioja’s baby by checking out the Calgary Zoo’s Facebook page.