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Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens welcomes critically endangered baby gorilla

The infant is now the ninth member of the largest gorilla group in Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens' history.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is celebrating the birth of a male western lowland gorilla.

The gorilla was born Friday morning and is the fifth gorilla to be born at the zoo and the first since 2018.

The zoo said this is the third offspring for the father, 44- year-old Lash and the second for the mother, 24-year-old Madini. Her daughter, Patty, still lives at the zoo and will be 6 years old on May 9.

Madini and Lash were recommended to breed by the Gorilla Species Survival Plan, according to the zoo. This group of zoo professionals cooperatively manage the gorilla population at zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

The infant is now the ninth member of the largest gorilla group in Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens' history. 

“We have many reasons to celebrate this new infant. He will further enrich the social environment and experience of his amazing group and strengthen the sustainability of the Gorilla SSP. Although raising Gandai was an incredibly rewarding experience, the gorilla care staff is elated to see this infant thriving in the care of his own mother,” said Tracy Fenn, Assistant Curator of Mammals. 

Western lowland gorillas are the most widespread of the gorilla subspecies inhabiting forests and swampland of central Africa. The animals are critically endangered due to deforestation, poaching, and introduced diseases, the zoo said.

Mature male gorillas, or “Silverbacks” are usually much larger than female gorillas. Baby gorillas usually weigh around four pounds at birth and are very dependent on their mothers for up to five years, the zoo said.

The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens will be raising awareness of species like the western lowland gorilla at Party for the Planet on Saturday, April 24. 

This event is presented by The Wild Things, a young professional group at the Zoo, and will be held to celebrate Earth Day, Endangered Species Day, and World Oceans Day. 

Organizers are encouraging guests to donate old cell phones to help save gorilla species in the wild. 

Click here for more information about the Party for the Planet event.