A precious baby gorilla for Taronga Zoo

Baby Kipenzi with her mother Kriba. Image: Rick Stevens

It’s a baby girl for Taronga Zoo’s western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla).

The 10-day-old baby gorillas is called Kipenzi, meaning “˜precious one’ in Swahili is the newest success of Taronga Zoos international captive breeding program.

Born on January 15th to mother Kriba, Kipenzi is the youngest of five. Kipenzi’s father, Kibabu is a 200 kilograms silverback and leader of the group.

According to primate keeper Lisa Ridley, Kipenzi is making a good impression on the other gorillas. “The group is very interested in the newborn” said Ridley in a statement.

“Kriba’s six year old offspring, “˜Kimya’, sister to the newborn is especially interested and stays close to Mum and baby, watching their every move. This is an excellent life lesson for Kimya since in the future she will also play a role in the breeding program, and who better to learn from than your mother?”

Kipenzi is the eighth gorilla born into the group since they arrived at Taronga Zoo from Holland in 1996. With 634 primate species facing extinction, captive breeding programs like the one at Taronga Zoo are a vital safety net in case wild populations become too low.

The western lowland gorillas are an endangered species with only an estimated 100,000-200,000 individuals in the wild. They prefer the dense rainforests of Cameroon, Central African Republic, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Congo and Angola.

However, deforestation and farming is destroying their habitats and they are being poached for their meat and other parts used for medicines. Ridley said “gorilla and other bushmeat is turning up in Europe where people pay top dollar to eat these endangered animals.”

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