Knoxville Zoo sees business boom after birth of baby gorillas

The Knoxville Zoo has two "one month old" baby gorillas, which are the first gorillas born in Knoxville and the first born in the state of Tennessee in 30 years.

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The Knoxville Zoo has two one month old baby gorillas. These are the first gorillas born in the area and the first born in the state in 30 years.

Previous story: Knoxville Zoo announces names and genders of two baby gorillas

“It’s a huge deal for us to even have one gorilla baby but to have two and have them so close together and they can grow up together and be playmates and the community can watch them grow,” said Lisa New president and CEO of the Knoxville Zoo. “Our guest love them, our staff are crazy about them and people are coming, it’s the first thing they want to see, so I think it has brought the zoo and the community closer together,” said New.


The names and genders of the new western low-land gorilla babies have been released. The first gorilla born to mother Hope is a girl named Obi. The second gorilla born to mother Machi is a boy named Ubuntu. Both names have African roots.

New tells WATE 6 On Your Side that the process of determining if the baby gorillas are male or female isn’t as easy as it seems.

“Mom gorilla what she’s supposed to do is keep that baby close and have its belly on her belly all the time and that’s exactly the behavior we want to see but it makes it hard to tell the gender,” said New. “Over this past month or so we’ve been able to see the babies moving around and we were able to get photos and see what we needed to see and our vets gave us their option and its not as obvious as it is with humans.”

New says next is just make sure the babies stay healthy.

“As they get older, they’ll straddle away from mom and be on the ground and when they’re on the ground, we just have to make sure they’re not picking up germs on anything that would make them sick,” said New.


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