Abandoned baby gorilla arrives at ARTIS

– Sept. 5, 2017

On Wednesday 30 August a young western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) arrived at ARTIS. A ten-month old female, the gorilla was born at Erlebnis Zoo Hannover on 29 October 2016, but shortly thereafter was abandoned by her mother.

Gorillas live in family groups. In order to be a part of the group, they have to learn to read social cues, recognise smells and sounds and learn acceptable behaviours. To offer the baby gorilla a chance at group life, and of being taken into the care of a female so she can learn to form social relationships, the European breeding programme (EEP) went in search of a troop of gorillas that she could join.

Quiet gorilla group

ARTIS was ultimately chosen on account of its quiet gorilla group, with a tolerant silverback and nurturing females. The population at ARTIS consists of one dominant male and a harem group of three females and four young males. In gorillas, pregnancy lasts just under nine months. They have one offspring at a time, with infant gorillas weighing only two kilograms at birth. They are nursed until the age of around four. The new arrival at ARTIS will be sheltered from the public for an initial period. For her introduction, ARTIS is working closely with the European breeding programme for western lowland gorillas.

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Abandoned baby gorilla. Photo Erlebnis Zoo Hannover.

Endangered species

The western lowland gorilla has been on the International Union for Conservation and Nature's (IUCN) list of highly endangered species since 2007. Currently found in the wild in eight African countries, their populations are shrinking fast. These declines are primarily attributable to poaching for meat (bushmeat trade), deforestation, and habitat loss due to farming.