August 31, 2016
The Philadelphia Zoo family has grown by one with the birth of a western lowland gorilla baby born to a 21-year-old female named Honi and 31-year old male named Motuba.
The baby was born on Friday. However, according to Dana Lombardo, director of communications for The Philadelphia Zoo, the sex of the newborn gorilla is still unknown, though "we should know something in the coming weeks."
"Mom is holding the baby so closely the keepers haven't been able to catch a glimpse," she said.
Also, once the zoo knows the sex of the newborn, the zoo intends to hold a contest to allow zoo visitors and followers on social media to help name the young gorilla.
However, Lombardo said, those hoping to name the gorilla after Harambe, a gorilla that was killed in May after a child entered its enclosure in the Cincinnati Zoo, could be disappointed.
Lombardo said the keepers will be asked to come up with possible names for the newborn and the public will be asked to vote from those options.
"These are the people that really put their blood, sweat and tears in for these animals," she said of the keepers. "But, we also wanted to include the public as well."
According to a blog post detailing the birth of the baby gorilla, this is Honi's second birth, though it is the first baby that Honi and and Motuba have had together.
WATCH the baby be caressed by its mother in this video shared by The Philadelphia Zoo:
If you'd like to see the baby, it is currently on exhibit along with the rest of its family at the zoo's PECO Primate Reserve, the zoo noted on the blog.
“We are very excited to welcome Honi’s new baby,” said Dr. Andy Baker, Philadelphia Zoo’s chief operating officer on the blog. “The zoo works with the Species Survival Plan breeding program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, whose goal is to manage populations of threatened, endangered and other species across AZA zoos, to maintain long-term genetic and demographic viability. This birth is an opportunity to engage our visitors in caring about the future of gorillas in the wild.”
Also, according to the zoo, both mother and baby appear healthy, though they will be monitored by staff at the zoo in the coming weeks and months.
Just like newborn humans, the zoo noted on the blog, baby gorillas need to rely completely on their mother for care.
“Given Honi’s experience, we’re not surprised she’s been a great mother so far, but we’re very pleased that both she and the baby appear healthy,” said Baker, in a quote on the blog. “The baby will be among the first generation of animals to grow up and explore through Zoo360, a first-in-the-world animal travel and exploration system.”
The infant currently lives in PECO Primate Reserve with its mom, Honi, its dad, Motuba and a female gorilla named Kira, the zoo said in the blog.
Viewing times may vary as the baby is constantly with mom who decides where she prefers to be each day, and the zoo said that visitors may see the family on exhibit inside of PECO Primate Reserve, in their outdoor habitat or hanging out in the Zoo360 trail system.
When mom wants to have quiet time she might retire to her downstairs bedroom with the newborn, said the blog post.
For information or to purchase tickets to see the baby gorilla, visit The Philadelphia Zoo's website.