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Critically endangered western lowland gorillas born in London and Prague

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The births occur as part of an international conservation program for the species.

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London Zoo and Prague Zoo have both welcomed newborn gorillas, who belong to the critically endangered western lowland species.

After a short 17-minute labour, London’s new baby was born to mum Mjukuu on Wednesday, after a pregnancy of around eight and a half months.

His father, Kiburi, arrived in London from Tenerife in November 2022 as part of the international conservation breeding programme.

Native to central Africa, western lowland gorillas were declared critically endangered in 2007 due to habitat loss and deaths caused by the Ebola virus and hunters who illegally killed them for their meat.

Their numbers in the wild have declined by more than 60 percent over the past 25 years, but the program is helping to ensure the conservation of a genetically diverse and healthy population of the gorilla subspecies.

Zookeepers have yet to confirm the sex of the baby.

A new cub was born to ten-year-old mother Duni in the Prague Zoo on Tuesday evening.

The zoo has been breeding lowland gorillas since 1963 and the first cub was born on December 13, 2004. That cub was Moja, who became the first gorilla born in a zoo in the Czech Republic and is the newborn’s grandmother. Her father is a twenty-six year old male Kisumu.

Shortly after the birth, zoo staff gave the newborn a period of rest from the public and the gorilla complex was closed.

The public was allowed back on Thursday to see the new baby.

Jan Mengr, the curator of monkeys at the zoo, said the birth was an important and essential event for the social system of the endangered species.

“From a European point of view, this breeding is important because it is recommended and encouraged. We expect that there will be an opportunity to transfer the cubs to another zoo. There is plenty of time to do this because they leave around the age of seven,” Mengr said.

According to Bobek, the Prague Zoo got better and larger facilities by dividing the gorillas into two separate reserves.

From Friday, visitors will be able to vote for the cub’s name, choosing from ten names that the zoo has selected from suggestions from children in Cameroon, Africa.

“We asked children in the Dja Biosphere Reserve in Cameroon for suggestions…because they are participating in our Wandering Bus project and have become gorilla conservationists,” explained Prague Zoo director Miroslav Bobek.

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