ASHEBORO Love is apparently in the air at the North Carolina Zoo.
Zoo officials chose Thursday, Valentine’s Day, to announce the upcoming birth of their third baby gorilla in a year.
The baby gorilla – expected to be born in June or July if carried to full term – is the offspring of an 18-year-old female, Acacia, and a 22-year-old male, Nkosi.
Nkosi is also the father of Bomassa, a male gorilla birthed by 13-year-old Jamani on Aug. 4, and Apollo, another male birthed by 17-year-old Olympia.
Since the deliveries, Jamani, Olympia and their infants have all done extremely well and are becoming the zoo’s most popular attractions.
“For the first nine months, the mom has them completely wrapped up,” zoo spokesman Rod Hackney said. “As they get to about a year, they wander away on their own, and that’s when they kind of hit their cuteness peak.”
The North Carolina Zoo’s first baby gorilla, Kwanza, was born in 1989. He was transferred in 1998 to Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo where he became a father as part of a gorilla species survival plan developed by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums.
The birth of a gorilla in captivity is a rare event.
From approximately 350 gorillas in 52 Association of Zoos and Aquarium facilities, only four births out of eight pregnancies were brought term during 2011 and early 2012.
Before the birth of Jamani’s baby, there had not been a gorilla birth at the N.C. Zoo in 23 years.
All three pregnancies were recommended by the Species Survival Plan, a coordinated program for the care and management of endangered species in AZA-accredited zoos. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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