Gorilla Pregnancy

05/02/2016

What is the typical gestation period for a gorilla?
The normal gestation period for a gorilla is about 8.5 months. Honi’s baby is expected in September 2016. This is the first gorilla pregnancy at Philadelphia Zoo in close to 20 years.
 
Who is the father?
The baby was sired by the gorilla troop's silverback, 31-year-old Motuba, who has one other offspring at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo born in 2003; her name is Bambio.
 
Is this Honi’s first pregnancy?
Honi has one other offspring as well, Kuchimba, a male silverback who spends specific periods of time with another male silverback, Louis.

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How has the Zoo been caring for Honi?
Through well-established training programs at the Zoo, the staff has successfully obtained ultrasound images of the baby with Honi actively cooperating with the veterinary staff holding her belly up to the mesh while zookeepers and vets conducted the ultrasound examination.
 
Honi will continue to be closely monitored by the keeper and veterinary staff throughout her pregnancy.
 
What will the baby gorilla eat?
The baby will exclusively breastfeed for the first 5 or 6 months, then will begin to eat solids. It will continue to nurse for at least 3-4 years. 
 
How long will the baby stay with mom?
Typically gorillas give birth to only one infant at a time. Newborn gorillas can weigh about 4 lbs. From the time they're about 4 months to 2 or 3 years old, young gorillas ride on their mothers' backs as a form of transportation. At around 7 to 10 years, the young gorilla will become mature enough to leave its mother. Gorillas can live around 35 years in the wild and more than 50 years in zoos.
 
Will the baby and mom Honi continue to live with Motuba, Kira?
Yes. The family will continue to live together as will the bachelors unless behavior or health issues indicate we should handle differently.
 
Will the other gorilla’s living at the Zoo have the opportunity to breed?
Philadelphia Zoo works with the AZA Species Survival Plan® (SSP) Program to cooperatively manage species population within accredited zoos and aquariums. These recommendations are intended to ensure the sustainability of a healthy, genetically diverse, and demographically varied AZA population. Although matches are made primarily on the basis of genetics, with certain animals like great apes, other factors come into play including social structure and personality.
 
The other female in the family group, Kira, also has a breeding recommendation with Motuba. The Zoo is planning their breeding so that Kira, if she does become pregnant, would give birth after Honi does. Kira would be a first time mother and would benefit greatly from watching Honi’s maternal care.
 
What other gorilla’s live at the Zoo?
Philadelphia Zoo has five western lowland gorillas: 31-year-old Motuba, 21-year-old Honi, 16-year-old Louis, 16-year-old Kira and 13-year-old Kuchimba, who is also Honi’s son. This baby will be among the first generation of animals to grow up and explore through Zoo360, the Zoo’s a first-in-the-world animal travel and exploration system.
 
What is the Conservation Status of Gorillas?
Western lowland gorillas are listed as Critically Endangered in the wild by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to expansion of agriculture, logging and deforestation.

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