Planning for a (Gorilla) Bundle of Joy

Posted on December 07

Calgary, AB – The Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo announced earlier today that its beloved 20-year-old western lowland gorilla, “Dossi”, is expecting her first infant. Her due date is expected to be late-April or early May – with official ‘baby watch’ commencing in late March until the infant is born.

“We are cautiously optimistic as this is Dossi’s first baby” said Jamie Dorgan, Director of Animal Care, Health & Welfare.  “Gorilla pregnancies are more likely to be unsuccessful the first time. There are lots of challenges ahead of us but the Animal Care, Health & Welfare team will be supporting Dossi every moment along the way. Our goal is to create an optimal environment for her to deliver a healthy infant, where she can calmly and instinctively care for her baby while also navigating troop family dynamics.”

In advance of the birth, the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo team will continue with extensive training with Dossi to help her be comfortable once the infant arrives. Direct intervention during parturition will only occur if Dossi’s health is at risk, or after the birth if the infant’s health and well-being is compromised. 

If the pregnancy is successful, this will be the first infant for mother-to-be, “Dossi” and 23-year-old father-to-be, “Jasiri”. The last successful gorilla birth at the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo was “Kimani” who was born in 2016.

The Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo is a proud supporter of gorilla conservation and has had gorillas for more than 50 years. Prior to the current male silverback Jasiri’s arrival, “Kakinga” was the most successful silverback at the zoo producing nine offspring with four different mates since he became the troop leader in 1993. His surviving lineage - four sons and three daughters - are important members of the Species Survival Program (SSP) today.

Wild gorilla populations have decreased by 80% over the past 30-years due to poaching and habitat destruction, mostly for the mineral coltan which is used in cell phone production. This birth represents important genetic diversity within the western lowland gorilla Species Survival Program (SSP). As a critically endangered species, a healthy population in human care acts as assurance population for gorilla survival into the future. 

Additional background:

  • Mother-to-be (Dam) is “Dossi”. She was born at the Bronx Zoo on February 4, 2001. She came to the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo on May 21, 2009 at 8-years-old.
  • Father-to-be (Sire) is “Jasiri”, the zoo’s male silverback. He was born at Zoo Atlanta on June 21, 1998 and arrived in Calgary in June 2019 from Zoo Atlanta.
  • Dossi will remain with the troop (not separated) when she gives birth. This is usual for a gorilla family; it would only add to her stress to separate her. The zoo’s experienced Animal Care, Health & Welfare team will be monitoring everything and will be ready to intervene only if absolutely necessary.

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For more information contact:
Alison Archambault
Director, Brand & Engagement
403.232.7766 | 403.919.9482 | [email protected]

For more than 30-years, the Calgary Zoo has led critical wildlife conservation work through the Calgary Zoo, its rural Wildlife Conservation Breeding Centre, as well as across Canada and around the world. The zoo is internationally recognized for world-class animal care and habitat design practices and takes pride in inspiring and educating generations of visitors about the importance of biodiversity and conservation during visits. As the Calgary Zoo continues its journey to be Canada’s leader in wildlife conservation, we are pleased to introduce the world to the Wilder Institute.   

The Wilder Institute is the rebranded Calgary Zoo Foundation and oversees the Calgary Zoo’s conservation portfolio, locally and globally. Together, we will continue to be a force of nature for making the world a wilder place. The staff and volunteers of Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo are passionate about restoring balance to wildlife and human life, together. As visitors discover the rare and endangered species that we love and care for at our facilities, they are directly contributing through admission and on-grounds sales to a not-for-profit charitable conservation organization that works to fight extinction of plants and animals worldwide. Learn more at WilderInstitute.org and CalgaryZoo.com.