Gorilla Born at the San Diego Zoo

Posted at 7:15 am September 30, 2008 by Kim Livingstone

 gorillaT08_0722_031.jpgOn September 3 at approximately 11:30 p.m. Azizi, an 11½- year-old western lowland gorilla, started to show signs of entering the first stage of labor. Keepers noted that she was becoming increasingly restless and experiencing contractions. Her labor continued into the next morning and at 11:05 a.m., Azizi gave birth to a very healthy and robust baby boy. His birth weight was approximately 5 pounds (2.3 kilograms)! The entire troop remained together and inside the gorilla management facility at the Zoo. Azizi’s troop consists of one 19-year-old silverback male, Paul Donn, and two other females: 13-year-old Imani and 14-year-old Ndjia.

The infant, who remains unnamed, is doing very well. Unfortunately, after delivering her baby Azizi did not show the strong mothering skills that we had all hoped for. She was very protective of the infant but did not carry him close enough to her chest to give him the opportunity to nurse. After two days, the infant had not been observed nursing nor had Azizi been in frequent close contact with him. This raised concern that his body temperature was dropping, since he was unable to thermo regulate. There were also concerns of dehydration. After much discussion with veterinarians and management staff, the decision was made to intervene. Since Azizi was leaving the infant for short periods of time, we decided to take the opportunity to separate and handle the infant to perform a medical evaluation. This procedure was executed successfully. There was great care being taken to ensure that Azizi remained in visual contact of the infant as much as possible. The infant was given back to his mother and keepers continued to observe carefully, looking for any signs of nursing bouts. As time went on with no nursing taking place, the staff decided to start bottle-feeding the baby with human infant formula. He accepted this change well and continues to be bottle-fed by keepers.

The current plan for this gorilla infant is to expose him to as much normal gorilla behavior as possible, limiting confusion about human relationships and behaviors. The keepers give Azizi and her troop as much opportunity as possible to interact with the infant. Ultimately, as the baby develops and becomes more independent, he will become fully integrated back into his troop.

See more photos on the What’s New page!

Kim Livingstone is the Heart of the Zoo team area lead at the San Diego Zoo.

Gorilla infant update: October 22, 2008, by Kim Livingstone

The gorilla infant, named Frank, is now 48 days old. His two front lower incisors have already erupted! He spends his day inside the gorilla management facility in his own enclosure or with his mother, Azizi, and the rest of the troop. His weight has increased from 5 pounds (2.3 kilograms) to his current weight of about 8 pounds (3.6 kilograms). Keepers continue to feed him five times per day with human infant formula. Recently we started to expose him to the gorilla habitat that he will soon share with his troop.

Frank can be viewed by Zoo guests on Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays from 11 to 11:30 a.m. at the main viewing area.

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33 Responses to “Gorilla Born at the San Diego Zoo”

  1. Carole says:

    Congratulations! Is the baby gorilla in the nursery in the Children’s Zoo and can he be seen by zoo visitors? While we all wish he could have remained full time with his mother, I am so happy he is doing well. I can hardly wait to see him.

    Moderator’s note: The baby gorilla is not in the Children’s Zoo Nursery. He has remained inside the gorilla building staying in a separate enclosure directly in front of his troop. His mother and the rest of the troop have direct physical contact with him daily. It will be a few months before Zoo guests will be able to see him on exhibit.

  2. Emma says:

    Congragulations!!!!! That is very good news!! Its too bad his mom couldn’t care for him, but maybe she will become more motherly as he gets older. I wish you good luck with this new baby boy!

  3. Carole says:

    Please post a photo of the baby — I am certain he is adorable and we all would love to see him.

  4. Susan (UK) says:

    What a shame his mother couldn’t care for him, but we all know that he will do well under SDZ care. Look forward to a picture of him sometime.

  5. barbara says:

    Congragulations to all, Pics please. I think baby gorillas are so darn cute. I’m sad that mom wasn’t to interested but at least she has contact with him so he has that maternal contact. I have a question that I have been curious about for a long time. How come from all I’ve read there are no mountain gorillas in captivia, It seems that they are all lowland gorillas?Thanks

    Moderator’s Note: We’re working on getting some great baby pictures to post. Keep checking!

  6. nancy from michigann says:

    I am wondering how that new baby gorilla is doing. it is surprising how well they can do with people

    intervening on their behalf. it has been done with lots of animals. it just makes me wonder why their mothers aren’t providing what they need. in the past, people used to say ” just leave them alone and let nature take it’s course. there is usually something wrong with the baby and the mother rejects it” now they figure that is not always the case. thank God! to me, the gorillas are very unique and are very mesmerizing. almost too human like. they are truly amazing and wonderful animals. it would be a great loss if these animals were to become extinct! I could sit and watch them all day. they have always been my favorites. is it possible to ever have a web cam to view these animals? the orangutangs and monkeys

    have a web cam. it isn’t too good though. everything is too far away an you can’t see much. wish they

    could have the camers closer somehow. anyway, good luck with this lucky baby. waiting for a picture!

    Moderator’s Note: We hope to be able to post some pictures of the baby within the next week.

  7. Barbara P. says:

    OK, that has to be one of the cutest babies I have ever seen. Would like to see more pictures. I hope he does well. He is a darling!

  8. max says:

    he is adoeble! how are ekuba,bouendjie,mandaazi,maka,imani,azizi,paul donn,ndjia,ndjole,memba,and alvila! say hi to keeper nate for me. i love gorillas and keep me updated. from max. i almost forgot how is the new baby boy let me know thank you.

  9. aaron says:

    i love gorillas

  10. janelle says:

    i laove gorillas i cant pick just one bc i love them ALL

  11. Carole says:

    He is adorable! What a wonderful photo. Please give us regular updates on his progress. We so look forward to visiting him at the zoo.

  12. nancy from michigan says:

    saw the cutest photos on what’s new site! that baby gorilla has got to be the cutest I have ever seen.

    how is he doing? named yet? he is considered out of danger and flourishing now isn’t he? his daddy is very big and handsome and must be very proud of his son! does his mother pay attention to him when they

    get a chance to interact? as a rule, gorilla families are very close and protective of their young. would this change in any way when the mother doesn’t feed or take care of him? I hope he is getting cuddled and loved as all baby gorillas need the close contact. I wish I was there to observe all their actions. when I visit the zoo, the rest of my family just want to leave me there for the day so they can see the rest of the zoo! they are so fasinating!………….love them! keep us informed and up-dated about JR.

  13. nancy from michigan says:

    how is that cute baby boy gorilla doing? does he have a name yet? until he has a name, I will call him junior!!! the pictures of him on WHAT’S NEW? are just precious!!!!! his big handsome father must be very proud! hopefully, junior is getting enough cuddling and loving when he has interactions with the rest of his troop. how does his mother act with him since the intervention? baby gorillas need the love of their mothers just as a human baby does. I can’t believe how expressive their eyes are. you just wonder what they are thinking and feeling………….! I wish I was there to observe myself. I could just sit all day and watch them. my family just want to leave me there with the gorillas for the day so they can see the rest of the animals at the zoo! ha ha. keep us informed about the little guy and let us know when he gets a better name than junior!!!

  14. nancy from michigan says:

    we haven’t had any up-dates on the baby gorilla! is he okay? does he have a name yet? we need a video cam like they have for the pandas, polar bear plunge, orangs, and elephants. can you look into this, or would this be too hard to do? I have always loved the gorillas! please, please, information…………..?

    Moderator’s note: Thanks for inquiring about the little guy. We’ve posted on update at the bottom of the blog above. As for a gorilla cam, no plans are currently in the works.

  15. nancy from michigan says:

    it sounds as though baby boy is flourishing and gaining weight. great! I haven’t been around to view the latest up-date. I sometimes forget to check as I did last time! sorry. you must get tired of my constant requests for more info, it’s just that I can’t get enough of these awsome creatures! lucky you are to be able to see and observe the troop every day. I’m jealous…………..!

  16. max says:

    do you guys give behind the scenes tours let me know if you can oh does the cutie have a name yet let me know

    Moderator’s note: The Zoo does indeed offer VIP tours that include select behind-the-scenes areas. Please call 800-407-9534 for more information. And the gorilla baby has been named Frank.

  17. nancy from michigan says:

    Frank the baby boy gorilla!! Frankie sounds more appropiate right now while he is a baby. ha ha! I just love the names people give to animals. it’s fun. I once had 3-goldfish named Peter, Paul, and Mary!

    2 turtles named herman and josephine. a dog named rambo, and a dog named tiny( st. bernard ) a bird named rocky, 2 birds named bonnie and c lyde, a bird named tequilla and finally a hampster named

    c larence. goofy huh? now I don’t have to refer to frank as junior!!!!!…………….!

  18. Barbee says:

    Although I live on the east coast and will probably never have the chance to visit your wonderful zoo, I watch the web cams daily. I love the pandas and now I am also in love with little Frank. I just wanted to say I appreciate your web cameras and all the ‘educational’ material that you provide. Welcome to the world,Frank!!

  19. max says:

    do you guys offer behind the scenes tours with the gorillas

    Moderator’s note: You can schedule a VIP to include a special opportunity with our gorillas. Please call our Reservation Sales Division at 800-407-9534 for more details.

  20. nancy from michigan says:

    what’s new with the gorilla’s? are you expecting any new babies in the near future? how’s little frank doing? I just love the beautiful open spaces that your zoo provides for these awesome creatures. they are truly lucky to have such a beautiful zoo and wonderful care to live in and be provided for by such a dedicated staff. a long cry from the small cages that gorillas had to stay in years ago!!! that was so sad. now i don’t feel sorry for their captivity anymore. they have a much better chance of survival in the zoo than they do in the wild. what with the poaching and all! our children and grand-children will be able to enjoy the great apes for years to come because of our great zoos and decated people. thanks!!!! for them to become extinct would be a tragedy!

  21. max says:

    i love Frank

  22. Anonamous says:

    very cute

  23. Chari Mercier says:

    Hi, gorilla fans! Just writing to you to let you know that another western lowland female gorilla has also given birth to a baby gorilla about a couple of weeks ago. At the National Zoo, a female western lowland gorilla named Mandara gave birth to her sixth baby gorilla on January 10, 2009. Mandara is 26 years old and is a very experienced mom having raised 5 other kids successfully. The daddy is the male silverback named Baraka who is 16 years old. The baby gorilla and the mom are doing fine so far, and we don’t know the gender of the baby yet. The NZ gorilla keepers will let us know when they can get a chance to do a vet check on the baby. This is the seventh successful gorilla birth at NZ since 1991. Mom and baby are still with the whole gorilla troop. I’ll let you know when I find out the gender of the baby, and when the baby has a name (maybe have a naming contest on the NZ gorilla page). Check out the NZ gorilla page on the website and look at the great pics and a video of this very cute gorilla baby. As we all know, western lowland gorillas are on the endangered species list due to habitat loss, human encroachment, and poaching for the bush meat trade.

    Chari Mercier :)

    St. Pete, FL

  24. max says:

    sorry i just sexed the baby yestrday in dc . he is a little boy. is frank with the rest of the group yet let me know

    Moderator’s note: Frank is not with the whole troop yet.

  25. jon says:

    he’s so cool……

  26. max says:

    sorryi thot i sexed the baby in dc it is actuley a girl. is there an age limit for going behind the scenes with the gorillas. let me know. has frank been indroduced to paul donn and azizi yet will frank meet boendjie and ekuba soon let me know

    Moderator’s note: For more information about our VIP tours, visit http://www.sandiegozoo.org/calendar/vip_special_tours.html or call 800-407-9534.

  27. max says:

    are you going to put another blog about the gorillas

    Moderator’s note: We hope to post some video of little Frank soon.

  28. Chari Mercier says:

    Hi, you all! Meant to write to you about this sooner, but got sidetracked! Anyway, National Zoo gorilla keepers have finally determined that the newest baby gorilla is a GIRL!! Both Mandara, her mom, and the baby gorilla are doing great, and the whole gorilla group have welcomed the new baby. They haven’t been outside much due to some cold, bad weather, but as the weather starts to warm up in the next few weeks, we should be able to catch Mandara and baby on the NZ gorilla cam along with the rest of the gorillas alot more. The keepers haven’t named the baby gorilla yet, and I’m really hoping that they will let all of us regular people vote for a good name for her. I’ll let you all know if that happens, ok?

    Just got on the SDZ apecam, and no apes were in view. I guess they are staying out of the rain!

    Gonna go for now.

    Chari Mercier :)

    St. Pete, FL

  29. Chari Mercier says:

    Hi! I have read the latest update about Mandara’s baby gorilla from a couple of days ago. Momma is fast tracking her little girl to new things already! Usually, a baby gorilla will hang onto the mom’s stomach for about a couple of months or so until the baby gains enough strength and weight to be able to ride on the mom’s back. Well, Mandara had other ideas for her daughter! At 3 weeks old, the baby gorilla has been riding on mom’s back lately! She’s now able to see the world around her in a loftier location now. Apparently, Mandara feels it’s safe enough for her baby girl to start riding on mom’s back off and on during the day. The baby still hangs on to her mom’s stomach as well especially when it’s time for the baby to get some milk. So, Mandara is doing very well in taking care of her baby gorilla, and with the experience of six other kids that she’s raised over the years, nobody has to worry about her decisions. She’a got everything under control. Still no name for the baby gorilla yet; will let you know what the NZ gorilla keepers have decided on that.

    Chari Mercier :)

    St. Pete, FL

  30. max says:

    chari i live in dc. i told you that the baby was a girl. and i will give you the updates. i see the baby every day. i know the gorilla studbook. and is frank in with in with Paul Donn yet and will he meet Ekuba and Bouenjie. and chari i know know Mandara very well she will bring

    the baby right up to the glass to sit with me. i will write about the baby now.

  31. max says:

    Has Frank met Paul Donn and Azizi yet? And will he meet Ekuba and Bouendjie? Let me know. From Max

  32. max says:

    Is Frank in with Paul Donn yet? Please let me know.

  33. nancy from michigan says:

    much to my surprise baby frank was on the morning news! I don’t know what was said as my husband called me too late to the tv! can you up-date me. I haven’t bugged you in a long time for information.

    Moderator’s note: We hope to have a blog and video up about Frank’s first day with his whole family. In the meantime, you can see some photos of that day in our What’s New section: http://www.sandiegozoo.org/whatsnew/