Second Baby in Month Born to Endangered Gorilla Family Thriving at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Sept. 24, 2014 – It’s another boy! Disney Cast Members, guests and animal lovers are celebrating the birth of the second gorilla in one month for the family of critically endangered western lowland gorillas at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Born Sept. 3 to mother Kashata and father Gino, the healthy infant joins another male gorilla who was born Aug. 7 to Azizi and Gino. The family group also includes another adult female, Benga, and a four-year-old female named Lilly.
“It’s exciting to see a strong, nurturing family of this endangered species flourishing at Disney’s Animal Kingdom,” said Jay Therien, Animal Operations Manager for Disney’s Animal Programs. ”As our bouncing baby boy bonds with Kashata, we’re thrilled with his health and development.”
This second baby is a welcome addition to the growing gorilla family that inhabits the wooded sanctuary of the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. As the two new infants adjust to their environment, members of the primate care team at Disney’s Animal Kingdom are delighted with the evolving family dynamic. As an experienced mother, Kashata cares capably for both this newborn and her daughter, Lilly, and serves as a maternal role model for new mother Azizi as she nurtures her own infant. And despite his imposing size and stature, Gino is remarkably tender with his two new babies, providing protection and guidance for his family.
This is the fifth gorilla born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan, which manages genetic diversity among species through detailed records of individual animals. The first gorilla birth at Disney’s Animal Kingdom occurred in 1997 before the park opened, the second baby arrived in 1999, a third followed in 2010 and the fourth came just last month.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom also participates in AZA Species Survival Plans for animals including elephants, cotton-top tamarins and okapi. Aside from breeding activities, Disney’s Animal Programs team remains active in gorilla conservation in other areas. The team:
- Provides staff expertise for GRACE, the first rescue and rehabilitation center in eastern Africa for orphaned gorillas. Designed to ultimately reintroduce gorillas back into the wild, the effort is supported by the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, which has provided more than $24 million to conservation efforts around the globe since it started in 1995.
- Innovated an animal training technique that enables experts to monitor gorillas’ heart health by administering cardiac ultrasound exams on fully alert gorillas.
- After a pregnancy of nearly nine months, female gorillas give birth to one infant that typically weighs just four pounds. After birth, infant gorillas cling to their mothers’ fur for the first several months, then ride on their mothers’ backs through the first two or three years of life.
- Gorillas are typically weaned between the ages of four and five years, but begin to eat solids between two to six months.
- Troops are led by one dominant, older adult male, often called a silverback because of the swath of silver hair that adorns otherwise dark fur. Troops also include several other young males, some females and their offspring.
- In the wild, western lowland gorillas are found in lowland tropical rainforests throughout western Africa.
- Gorillas are the largest of all primates, standing up to six feet tall and weighing up to 450 lbs.
- The gorilla habitat in Africa is quickly disappearing due to the mining of coltan, a mineral used to make batteries for electronics. Recycling cell phones or laptops may contribute to gorilla conservation.