Cementing the San Francisco Zoo’s reputation as a world-class destination for looking at baby animals, 14-year-old western lowland gorilla Nnenka brought this 5-pound, 1-ounce hairy little bundle of joy into the world Wednesday afternoon.
The Jones Family gorilla preserve will be closed for at least the next few days while the new girl, who doesn’t have a name yet, gets to spending some quality time with her folks and integrating with the rest of the troop. Shortly after her birth at 2 p.m. yesterday, the newborn quickly proceeded to drink a whole bunch and then pass out.
The father is the 31-year-old, 330-pound silverback gorilla Oscar “OJ” Jonesy. Apparently none of the other gorillas in the whoop thought it was odd that he was seeing a woman less than half his age, but the couple is known as the “Royal Family” around the Zoo, so they’re sort of like a primate version of Will & Kate. The mother reportedly had a easy pregnancy that she spent eating potatoes and romaine lettuce. Zoo keepers
also figured out they could use apple sauce instead of cold ultrasound gel so
she could get a snack while receiving her periodic checkups. (Take note, human OB/GYNs.)
In fact, Nneka’s name means “mother is supreme” in Obo, but she had to wait for OJ to give her the sign that it was OK to take care of the baby. OJ, for his part, is turning out to be quite the stud around the preserve, especially for a guy from Columbus, Ohio. In 2008, he fathered a four-year-old male gorilla named Hasani to a different mother.
Here’s what the Zoo has to say about the critically endangered western lowland gorilla (
scientific name: Gorilla gorilla gorilla):
Western lowland gorillas are the smallest of the four gorilla subspecies with a brownish-grey coat with red highlights. Adult males have silver-colored fur on their backs and legs, which is the origin of the name silverback. They are herbivores and enjoy plant-based diets that include fruit, vegetables, leaf-based browse, bark, grain and tubers. They live in family groups called troops averaging four to six members that are led by a dominant older male and consist of multiple females, juveniles and youngmales. Females begin reproduction at age nine or ten and do not produce many offspring. Female gorillas have a pregnancy term of nearly nine months and usually give birth to one infant. The infant will be held by its mother or ride on her back for approximately one year.
The actual number of gorillas in the wild is unknown, since they can live in some pretty remote rainforest regions. According to the World Wildlife Fund, their biggest threats are poaching, habitat destruction and diseases such as the Ebola virus. have contributed to the decline of the species by 60 percent over the past 25 years. There are currently 342 western lowland gorillas at 53 AZA-accredited zoos North America.