Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo welcomes baby gorilla

In Seattle, Woodland Park Zoo recently announced the birth of a new male gorilla on June 28, 2023. The birth took place at 10:30 a.m., marking the first child for 22-year-old Akenji. However, due to Akenji’s lack of appropriate maternal behaviors despite months of training, zoo staff intervened within an hour of the birth to ensure the baby’s safety.

The newborn gorilla weighed 4.4 pounds, which is within the average weight for a gorilla at birth. Dr. Yousuf Jafarey, Associate Veterinarian at Woodland Park Zoo, reported that the baby is healthy and physically normal. The zoo staff has been providing the baby with round-the-clock care, including bottle-feeding, comfort, and keeping him warm.

Akenji has not shown interest in bonding with her baby, which has left the zoo staff disappointed, especially since she demonstrated capable maternal behaviors during her training program. The baby continues to develop and receive care behind the scenes while Akenji is given opportunities to bond with him.

Kwame, the 24-year-old father, already has two children – son Kitoko born in March 2020 and daughter Zuna born in January 2021. The zoo has a professional team of gorilla experts with over eight decades of collective experience caring for and breeding gorillas, preparing expectant moms for motherhood, and uniting moms and infants or introducing other gorillas to step in as mothers.

The baby gorilla has not been named yet, and visitors can still see Akenji and her family in their outdoor habitat from mid-morning to mid-afternoon. The zoo plans to continue providing most of the care for the baby while still offering Akenji opportunities to bond with him.

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