The Los Angeles Zoo is going bananas over the anticipated arrival of a new baby gorilla.
For the first time in 20 years, the zoo prepares for the birth of what they call a critically endangered western lowland gorilla.
The 25-year-old gorilla and first time mother N'dija was brought to the LA Zoo a year ago with the intention to breed her.
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Shortly after her arrival at the Zoo, N'dija began to breed with a male silverback gorilla named Kelly. After staff conducted multiple at-home pregnancy tests, it was confirmed that N'dija's was pregnant.
According to staff, the mother to be is currently 8.5 months pregnant, and her delivery is expected to happen sometime between November or January.
"We're really excited to share the news of this pregnancy with the public," said Beth Schaefer, director of animal programs at the Los Angeles Zoo. "The western lowland gorilla is critically endangered in the wild, so having an insurance population in zoos is extremely important. We welcome the public to follow us on this journey as we prepare for the birth of N'djia's first baby. It really shows the amount of diligent work and planning that goes into caring for all of the animals here at the Zoo from birth to death, and all of the big events in between."
Staff has been working around the clock to care and check up on N'djia, and with the arrival of the baby being so close, it's all hands on deck for the zoo's staff.
Just like any birth, human or animal, there are always risks. Some of the risks include miscarriage, stillbirth or various complications, but the zoo said that its health staff is prepared for complications. Most importantly, they can't wait to see N'djia take on her new role as mom.
"I'm optimistic N'djia will be a great mom," said Candace Sclimenti, curator of mammals at the Los Angeles Zoo. "Although she's a first-time mother, she's lived in a group with babies before. While female gorillas carry the majority of responsibility for rearing their young, Kelly has fathered offspring and has proven to be a very patient, playful dad. As a team, we're experiencing many 'firsts' with this pregnancy. We're excited to share everything we're learning with the public because we want to create connections between our guests and wildlife."
The birth of the baby gorilla is special because this particular species is endangered due to illegal hunting, habitat degradation and destruction and diseases such as the Ebola virus.
According to the zoo, these types of gorillas are often hunted for bushmeat, which has added to the decline of western lowland gorillas. But soon, there will be one more gorilla added to the population.
Guests who want to see N'djia's and Kelly can visit them at the Campo Gorilla Reserve exhibit.
To follow N'djia's pregnancy and birth, follow @lazoo on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.