NC Zoo welcomes second baby gorilla in a month

Posted September 1, 2012 2:31 p.m. EDT
Updated September 2, 2012 8:56 a.m. EDT

— After going two decades without a gorilla birth, the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro welcomed its second infant gorilla Friday in less than a month.

Olympia, a 16-year-old female, gave birth around 7 p.m. Friday to a 4-pound baby boy.  A name has not been selected.

The infant seems to be in good health, and although this is Olympia's first baby, she seems to be providing excellent care for the newborn, according to keepers.

Zookeepers saw signs that Olympia was going into labor when the gorillas were brought out of the exhibit area around 5 p.m. Friday. The infant was born in the gorilla holding quarters about two hours later.

Keepers had originally predicted Olympia would deliver in October, but with an 8½-month gestation period, it is difficult to determine the delivery date for gorillas when keepers aren't certain of the conception date, N.C. Zoo Keeper Chris Goldston explained.

On Aug. 4, the N.C. Zoo saw its first successful gorilla birth in 23 years when Jumani, age 12, gave birth to a healthy male baby named Bomassa.

The father of both infants is Nkosi, a 19-year-old male who came to the N.C. Zoo from the Columbus Zoo in March 2008. Jamani came from the San Diego Zoo in January 2010, and Olympia from Zoo Atlanta in March 2009.

All three gorillas were brought to the N.C. Zoo and recommended for breeding as part of the Gorilla Species Survival Plan of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Any gorilla birth is a significant accomplishment, but two in such a short period is very unusual, according to Goldson, who supervises the gorilla section. The approximately 350 gorillas in 52 accredited zoos have seen only four successful births out of eight pregnancies since 2011.