Calgary, AB (January 2016) – The Calgary Zoo is delighted to share its 14 year-old female gorilla, Kioja, is pregnant and expecting her first offspring in early March 2016. This marks the first gorilla pregnancy since 2008, when Yewande was born into the zoo’s gorilla troop.
“We are excited for this new addition to our gorilla troop as a baby is the best enrichment for the group,” says Dr. Malu Celli, Curator, Calgary Zoo. “In the wild, gorillas are critically endangered and by adding another member to our troop we are continuing to ensure there is genetic diversity within captive populations and safeguard the long-term future of this species.”
The anticipated baby was sired by the troop’s silverback, 37 year-old Kakinga, who has fathered nine other offspring since 1993, seven are surviving and all of which were born at the Calgary Zoo. Although, the Calgary Zoo has had gorillas for more than 50 years, Kakinga has been the zoo’s most successful silverback since becoming troop leader in 1993. Kioja arrived at the Calgary Zoo in 2009 along with her half-sister Dossi from the Bronx Zoo, where she was born in 2001.
As this is the first offspring for Kioja, the zoo’s gorilla team has been working with her to help prepare for the birth. This includes specialized training, conducting regular ultrasounds, behavioural analysis and close monitoring by the zoo’s veterinary staff. Normal gestation for gorillas is about eight to nine months or 37 weeks, much the same as a human pregnancy.
The zoo’s gorilla troop consists of, the male silverback and leader of the troop, 37 year-old Kakinga and females, 18 year-old Zuri, 14 year-old Dossi, 14 year-old Kioja and 7 year-old Yewande.
Western lowland gorillas are currently listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List. Gorillas are a part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP) which help to ensure genetic diversity in captive populations and may safeguard against the species from becoming extinct. In the wild, populations of western lowland gorillas are under siege, having dropped more than 80 percent in just three generations. These gorillas face exceptionally high levels of hunting, disease and habitat loss and it is estimated that there are fewer than 100,000 left in the wild.
To help save gorillas, the Calgary Zoo collects cell phones for the Eco-Cell program, which supports gorilla conservation efforts through cell phone recycling. The mineral coltan is found inside cell phones, which is mined in areas were gorillas live. By recycling phones, gorilla habitat is preserved and further work is being done to protect these critically endangered animals. Calgarians are asked to drop off their old cell phones to Guest Relations at the main zoo entrance or follow this link to learn more about the program.