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London Zoo celebrates birth of critically endangered baby gorilla

Western lowland gorilla, Mjukuu, holds her newborn at London Zoo (J Kemeys/London Zoo)
Western lowland gorilla, Mjukuu, holds her newborn at London Zoo (J Kemeys/London Zoo)

A critically endangered baby gorilla has been born at London Zoo leaving zookeepers “grinning from ear to ear”.

Mother, Mjukuu, gave birth to the western lowland gorilla infant, whose name and sex are yet to be determined, on Wednesday morning after a speedy 17-minute labour.

A video of Mjukuu shows her tenderly cradling her newborn moments after giving birth.

Gorilla cradles her newborn
The western lowland gorilla infant has yet to be named and its sex has not been determined (London Zoo)

Zookeepers closely monitored Mjukuu’s pregnancy journey via CCTV cameras installed in the dens and found her “tenderly holding her newborn”.

Kathryn Sanders, primates section manager at London Zoo, said: “We started our day as normal – we gave the gorillas their breakfast and began our cleaning routines.

“When we returned to their back dens, we could see Mjukuu was starting to stretch and squat – a sign that she was in labour.

“After a very quick labour – just 17 minutes – Mjukuu was spotted on camera tenderly holding her newborn and demonstrating her wonderful mothering instincts – cleaning her infant and checking it over.”

Gorilla cradles her newborn
Mother, Mjukuu, cradles her newborn (J Kemeys/London Zoo)

Zookeepers have described the infant as being closely snuggled to its mother and will remain in close contact with her for the first six months of its life.

The zoo is also home to youngsters Alika and Gernot who keepers said were intrigued by the newborn.

Western lowland gorillas are classified as critically endangered with a high risk of becoming extinct.

The number of wild western lowland gorilla have declined by more than 60% over the last 25 years because of poaching and disease, according to the Zoological Society of London who run the zoo.

Ms Sanders said she and the rest of the zookeepers “can’t stop staring” at the infant.

“To say we’re happy about this new arrival would be a huge understatement – we’ve all been walking around grinning from ear to ear,” she said.

“We’ll be giving mum and baby lots of time and space to get to know each other, and for the rest of the troop to get used to their new addition – they’re as excited as we are and can’t stop staring at the baby.”

The baby gorilla’s father, Kiburi, arrived at London Zoo from Tenerife, Spain in November 2022 as part of the international conservation breeding programme for western lowland gorillas.