Endangered gorilla born at National Zoo
WASHINGTON - A baby western lowland gorilla was born at the National Zoo this weekend in full view of zoo visitors, officials said.
The baby gorilla - zoo staff have not yet gotten a close enough peek to say whether it is male or female - weighs between 4 and 5 pounds, zoo officials believe. The mother gorilla, Mandara, is cradling the baby to her chest. Her palm covers the baby's body, but its head and one arm are usually visible, zoo spokeswoman Pamela Baker-Masson said.
"She's holding the baby. She's very unlikely to set it down," Baker-Masson said. "Sometimes the hand was in a little ball, and sometimes the hand is spread out." Mandara gave birth about 1:45 p.m. Saturday, on the other side of the large plate glass window that separates the public from the gorillas in the ape house.
"She had it right there, in the middle of the afternoon. It's incredibly unusual," Baker-Masson said. Mandara is 26 years old and has given birth to five other babies over the years. The baby gorilla's father is Baraka, who is 16 years old.
Zoo officials said the birth is significant because western lowland gorillas are listed as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Red List of Threatened Species, primarily due to habitat loss and poaching.