Dallas Zoo welcomes first baby gorilla in 20 years, helping expand critically endangered species

Credit: Pixabay

Credit: Pixabay

Dallas Zoo staffers are admiring a new baby gorilla born at the zoo last week to a critically endangered western lowland gorilla named Hope.

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Hope delivered the baby last Monday and has spent the past week bonding with it and caring for it.

The zoo doesn't know the gender of the new gorilla, yet, because Hope has kept the baby so close, zoo officials said in a press release.

"Welcoming a critically endangered gorilla into our family is one of the most significant animal announcements we can make, and we've waited patiently for 20 years for this moment," the zoo's president and CEO, Gregg Hudson, said.

“We’ve dedicated years of conservation field work to saving gorillas in the wild and now we’re proudly increasing their numbers in human care. We’re truly beaming with pride,” Hudson said.

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This is Hope’s second baby and her first since moving to the Dallas Zoo last year.

"Reproducing critically endangered species is no easy feat, and this moment doesn't come without its share of obstacles," the executive vice president of animal care and conservation, Harrison Edell, said in a statement.

“We’re feeling a ton of emotions – excitement, relief, gratitude – and now we have to ensure this infant grows into a successful member of our gorilla troop,” Edell said.

The Dallas Zoo has nine gorillas, including a bachelor troop and a family troop who live in different areas at the facility.

Western lowland gorillas, like Hope, are the most numerous and widespread of all gorilla species in Africa, according to the World Wildlife Fund, but because of their habitats in the most dense and remote rain forests in Africa, their numbers are hard to count.

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The WWF estimates the animal's numbers have declined by up to 60 percent over the past 25 years because of poaching and disease, and, even if all threats against the gorilla were removed, scientists have calculated that it would take 75 years for the population to recover.

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