25 MAY 2023 (Calgary, AB) – The Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo announced they are absolutely thrilled to share that ‘Yewande’ (pronounced You-WAN-day), the zoo’s beloved 15-year-old western lowland gorilla, gave birth to an infant yesterday afternoon. It is still early days, but the zoo’s Animal Care, Health & Welfare (ACHW) team is cautiously optimistic as mom, baby and the rest of the troop are doing well so far with great early mothering skills being shown by Yewande. ‘Jasiri’ (pronounced Jah-SEAR-ee) the zoo’s 24-year-old silverback male, is the infant’s father. The sex of the gorilla infant has not yet been confirmed.
“It warms our hearts to see Yewande settling into a motherhood role,” said Kim Walker, Animal Care Manager (South America/Rainforest) at the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo. “Yewande and the baby are doing well and we’ve closed the building to give the troop some privacy as they get acquainted with their newest family member. The Animal Care, Health & Welfare team will be closely monitoring and supporting them – from a distance – every moment along the way. We couldn’t be more thrilled about the successful birth of this infant!”
Gorillas are a social species and develop close-knit family bonds. Yewande, Jasiri and the infant are together with the rest of the troop in the main habitat. The Animal Care, Health & Welfare team is seeing positive behaviour from the troop as a whole and they will continue to closely monitor the troop’s progression. The African Rainforest building is closed to allow the troop some privacy as they bond with their newest member. The building will remain closed to the public until the troop is ready for human visitors.
This newborn is the 11th of this critically endangered species to be born at Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo. In addition to the newest arrival, the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo currently loves and cares for six gorillas:
- Yewande: 15-year-old, female. She was born at the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo on May 15, 2008.
- Jasiri: 24-year-old, male silverback. He was born at Zoo Atlanta on June 21, 1998 and arrived in Calgary in June 2019 from Zoo Atlanta.
- Zuri: 26-year-old, female. She was born at Cheyenne Mountain Zoological Park on December 31, 1996 and came to the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo on April 26, 2001. Zuri is Yewande’s mom making her the infant’s grandmother.
- Kioja: 22-year-old, female. She was born at the Bronx Zoo on January 24, 2001 and came to the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo on May 21, 2009. Kioja is Dossi’s half-sister.
- Dossi: 22-year-old, female. She was born at the Bronx Zoo on February 4, 2001 and came to the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo on May 21, 2009. Dossi is Eyare’s mom.
- Eyare: 1-year-old, female. She was born at the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo on April 20, 2022. Eyare is the half-sister to the infant as they share the same father, Jasiri.
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. The Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo is part of the Western Lowland Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP) and this birth represents important genetic diversity within the SSP and overall conservation efforts to save this incredible species. As a critically endangered species, a healthy population in human care acts as an assurance population for gorilla survival into the future.
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