New Orleans' Audubon Zoo Welcomes Endangered Gorilla Baby: 'This Is a Momentous Occasion'

The Audubon Zoo has added a new member to its animal family!

On Tuesday, the New Orleans facility announced in a statement that a critically endangered western lowland gorilla was born at the zoo on Sept 4. It is the first gorilla birth at Audubon Zoo in 24 years.

"This is a momentous occasion for Audubon Zoo," said Audubon Nature Institute President and CEO Ron Forman. "We are thrilled to share this birth with our New Orleans community and contribute to the conservation efforts of this critically endangered species."

The youngster was born to the zoo's 13-year-old Tumani after she "successfully" mated with 27-year-old Okpara, a silverback gorilla that was transferred to the Audubon Zoo from the Franklin Park Zoo in 2017. This is Tumani and Okpara’s first offspring together.

The zoo's animal care staff says that the mother and baby are both doing well. Keepers are closely monitoring the infant’s health to ensure it is receiving proper care.

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While the zoo has recently reopened to guests amid the novel (COVID-19) coronavirus pandemic, the World of Primates section will be closed while Tumani and the infant bond.

The zoo says it will reopen the exhibit once the mother and infant have properly bonded, at which point guests will be able to catch a glimpse of the baby gorilla in its outdoor habitat.

"Guests can spot the infant by a small white patch of hair on its rump," animal care staff said. "The patch will fade away when the gorilla reaches three to four years of age. This white patch helps mother gorillas keep track of infants and assists other group members in identifying the gorilla as an infant."

Audubon Zoo has set up an online baby registry for Tumani and her newborn, where the public can help care for the animals by sending in "nutritious food, engaging enrichment, and training materials."

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