NC Zoo gorilla pregnant

Posted May 4, 2011 12:45 p.m. EDT
Updated May 4, 2011 1:04 p.m. EDT

— One of the gorillas at the North Carolina Zoo is expecting a baby this summer, zoo officials said Tuesday, marking the first time in 22 years that a baby gorilla could be born at the zoo.

Eleven-year-old Jamani, who was transferred to Asheboro from the San Diego Zoo in January 2010, should deliver her first baby in late July or early August, officials said. The father is 19-year-old Nkosi, who arrived from the Columbus (Ohio) Zoo in March 2008.

The pairing of the two was recommended by the Gorilla Species Survival Plan, a cooperative program of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums aimed at improving the captive care and breeding of highly endangered great apes.

Zookeepers and veterinarians suspected Jamani might be pregnant as early as December, officials said. A number of pregnancy tests given over the ensuing months were positive, but the pending birth wasn't confirmed until a sonogram provided a view of the baby. Zookeepers don't yet know whether the baby is a boy or a girl.

The N.C. Zoo’s first baby gorilla, Kwanza, was born in March 1989. He instantly became the zoo’s marquee attraction and was credited with bringing 80,000 additional visitors to the Asheboro zoo during his first year on exhibit.

Kwanza was transferred in 1998 to Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo in another breeding move coordinated by the Gorilla Species Survival Plan.