Yewande, the beloved 15-year-old western lowland gorilla, housed at Canada’s Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo has given birth to an infant. The baby gorilla, whose gender has not been announced, is the zoo’s gorilla troop’s second infant in two years.
This is the second time Yewande and Jasiri, the silverback gorilla that was acquired in 2019 as a 21-year-old bachelor from Zoo Atlanta, have conceived, however, her first pregnancy in 2021 ended in a stillbirth. But Jasiri is also the father to one-year-old Eyare.
The new infant is being closely watched as the gorillas’ animal care, health and welfare team gave a cautious but optimistic report and announced that the mother, the baby and the rest of the troop are doing well.
Kim Walker, the Animal Care Manager of the South America and Rainforest section of the zoo, said the care team will be closely monitoring and supporting the mother and child just as the zoo said Yewande has shown positive early mothering skills.
“It warms our hearts to see Yewande settling into a motherhood role.
“Yewande and the baby are doing well and we’ve closed the building to give the troop some privacy as they get acquainted with their newest family member. The animal care, health and welfare team will be closely monitoring and supporting them — from a distance — every moment along the way,” he said.
However, Coleen Baird, the Interim Director of Animal Care, said the whole troop appears to be suffering from sickness but said the team is hoping the virus won’t affect the newborn.
“When the baby starts to nurse, [they’ll] get a lot of that antibody support from [their] mom. And so whatever their mom is fighting or going through will get passed on, but we want to make sure that it is getting that nursing moment. And then we have them on board.
“So we’re paying attention for sure. We’re not too nervous right now, but we’re certainly watching every moment here,” Baird said.
Baird explained that the team doesn’t know if the troop has COVID-19, but stated that they are getting 24-7 care, with medications and nutritious food and drinks.
She said the gender of the baby would be determined when the mother lets the team gets closer.