Yewande, the Calgary Zoo’s beloved 12-year old western lowland gorilla, is expecting her first baby. Her due date is early--May, official baby watch will commence in mid-April until the baby is born.
“We are cautiously optimistic as this is Yewande’s first baby” said Jamie Dorgan Director of Animal Care. “This marks the first gorilla baby in the troop since Kimani’s birth in 2016 and the Calgary Zoo’s new male silverback, Jasiri’s, first offspring. There are lots of challenges ahead of us to help Yewande successfully deliver a healthy baby and navigate troop family dynamics, but the Animal Care team will be helping her every moment along the way.”
In advance of the birth, the Calgary Zoo team will continue with extensive training with Yewande to help her be comfortable once the baby arrives. Direct intervention will only occur if the baby’s health and well-being is compromised.
Wild gorilla populations have decreased by 80% over the past 30-years due to poaching and habitat destruction, including mining for the mineral “coltan” which is used in cell phone production. This birth represents important gene diversity within the international Species Survival Program (SSP), which helps to maintain a genetically robust population of gorillas as an assurance population for the wild. Unfortunately, too many species now find solace only in progressive zoos and aquariums.