WESTERN LOWLAND GORILLA BORN AT THE OKC ZOO
June 22, 2018
UPDATE (July 11, 2018): We are announcing the name of our male, baby gorilla.Welcome, Finyezi (feen-YEH-zee)! Finyezi means “firefly” in the Zulu language of Southern Africa.
The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden has a new arrival–a male Western lowland gorilla. The baby gorilla was born in the early hours of Tuesday, June 19, inside the Great EscApe day room to mother Ndjole (pronounced In-jōlee) and father Togo (pronounced Toe-go). This marks the 27th gorilla born at the Oklahoma City Zoo since 1974.
Weighing two kilograms (4.4 pounds) at birth, the gorilla newborn is in good health. However, despite multiple attempts, Ndjole has not displayed any signs of maternal care toward her baby since giving birth, and the OKC Zoo’s veterinarian and caretaker teams have made the decision to hand rear the infant.
“We gave Ndjole several opportunities to bond with her newborn within the first 24 hours but saw no signs that she was interested in caring for him,” said Robin Newby, assistant curator of primates. “Zoo animal care team members and trained volunteers will provide around-the-clock care in an off-exhibit area in Great EscApe as we continue to explore every option to reunite the infant with other gorillas.”
It is the Zoo’s goal to explore every option to reunite the infant with other gorillas as soon as possible. The Zoo’s veterinarian team and gorilla caretakers will work with the Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP) through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to determine when the baby will be returned to a gorilla group or placed with a surrogate mother, even if that means relocating to another AZA-accredited zoo. SSP programs oversee the population management of select species within AZA member institutions.
Ndjole, a 22-year-old Western lowland gorilla, came to the Zoo in 2010 from the San Diego Zoo. She has previously birthed two offspring. Her first, a male, Bouendje, 12, is a member of the Zoo’s bachelor gorilla troop in Great EscApe. Female Kamina, her second offspring, was born at the OKC Zoo in 2014 and now resides at the Columbus Zoo.
Father Togo, a 29-year-old silverback Western lowland gorilla, arrived at the Zoo in 2012 from the Como Park Zoo as part of a breeding recommendation made by the Gorilla SSP. Togo’s gorilla family also includes females Mikella, Emily, Kelele and youngsters, Leom, Rubi and Azinza.
With this recent addition, the Zoo continues its involvement in the Gorilla SSP. One of the SSP's most important roles is to manage gorillas as a population to ensure that the population remains healthy, genetically-diverse and self-sustaining. Native to the lowland forests of Central and Western Africa, Western lowland gorillas are critically endangered. Commercial hunting for meat, habitat loss and disease are contributing factors to their status in the wild.
Updates about the baby gorilla will be shared through the Zoo’s blogs at Our Stories and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Located at the crossroads of I-44 and I-35, the Zoo is a proud member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the American Alliance of Museums, Oklahoma City’s Adventure District and an Adventure Road partner. Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Regular admission is $11 for adults and $8 for children ages 3-11 and seniors ages 65 and over. Children two and under are admitted free. Stay up-to-date with the Zoo on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and by visiting Our Stories. Zoo fans can support the OKC Zoo by becoming Oklahoma Zoological Society members at ZOOfriends.org or in-person at the Zoo! To learn more about these and other happenings, call (405) 424-3344 or visit okczoo.org.
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