The San Diego zoo Gorillas are busy taking care of a new member amidst them all thanks to Kokamo the 22 year old western lowland gorilla who gave birth to an infant on Friday 17 June. This is the first gorilla birth happening in the zoo after eleven years.
Kokamo was born at the Oklahoma City zoo in 1988 and had her first birth at the age of 8 years in 1996. In 1999 she also became mother to the seventh set of twins ever born in captivity. These twins still live in Oklahoma while Kokamo was shifted to San Diego zoo in 2010.
Immediately after her arrival, Kokamo delighted the zoo staff by becoming pregnant and she gave birth to the infant gorilla on 17 June at 9 p.m. after nurturing it inside her womb for approximately 8 and a half months. The sex of the infant has not yet been revealed but it is showing signs of good health and clinging to its mother like all other baby gorillas.
Gorillas usually start walking after six months and by 18 months start following their mother around. But it is not until they are 3 years old that they stop nursing entirely.
The western lowland Gorillas are found in the forests of South Africa in and around the Congo region . They are critically endangered and poaching, logging, deforestation are some of the major threats the species faces in the wild. The gorillas are also threatened by disease spread by the Ebola virus that causes internal bleeding and is fatal in almost 95 percent cases. About 50,000 to 100,000 gorillas survive in the wild.
In the San Diego zoo there are currently six western lowland gorillas. The silverback gorilla that is the natural leader of a group is taking special care to keep Kokamo and the baby separated and protected from the rest of the group. In the wild too it is the silverback gorillas that are the leaders and choose the group’s movement, protection etc.
The infant is not yet on public display though the exhibit is open to all.