KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A second baby endangered Western lowland gorilla was born Tuesday morning at the Knoxville Zoo.
The baby was born around 11:40 a.m. to gorilla Machi. Zoo officials say 39-year-old Machi is keeping the baby up high in an elevated area of the courtyard and zoo employees haven’t had a chance to examine the baby yet.
They say both mother and baby appear to be doing well. Machi has been cleaning and caring for the baby appropriately and staff are watching for signs of nursing.
“You watch that mother patting her baby and nursing her baby and the dad trying to gently touch and see and I think it resonates with all of us,” said Lisa New, executive director of the Knoxville Zoo.
The gorilla group is being monitored continuously to make sure the dynamics of the family group are good. As long as they continue to do well, zoo officials do not plan to intervene.
Machi came to Knoxville in 2013 from Zoo Atlanta on the recommendation of the Western Lowland Gorilla Species Survival Plan. This is Machi’s fourth baby, and zoo staff have every expectation she will be a caring and nurturing mother based on her history.
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Machi’s baby is the second endangered gorilla born in less than a week at the zoo. Hope gave birth early Thursday morning.
“To have one is a treasure. To have two is significant. Never in our wildest dreams would we have hoped for that,” said New.
Western lowland gorillas are native to the rainforests of Africa. The zoo says habitat loss, commercial hunting and outbreaks of the Ebola virus have significantly impacted their population.