Департамент культуры Supplement to the family of lowland gorillas of the Moscow Zoo

Supplement to the family of lowland gorillas of the Moscow Zoo

23.11.2018

On November 13, the rare lowland gorillas gave birth to a cub. Right now, the baby looks very tiny and helpless in the caring hands of the mother – a 23-year-old female named Kira. However, very soon he will begin an active world exploration and take his place in a complex family hierarchy.

Currently, a group of lowland gorillas of our zoo has eight individuals, headed by a 20-year-old male Vizury. In addition to him, Kira and their cub, there are three more teenagers (two females 2016 and 2013 year of birth and one male born in 2013), 17-year-old female Shinda, who came from the Netherlands, as well as 47-year-old female Pabsy from Leipzig.

Kira and her cub stay out of the way from other members of the group yet, however, as soon as the baby gets strong, the female will allow other gorillas to touch it and even nurse.

"The birth of a baby of a lowland gorilla is an important occasion not only for our zoo, but also for the international zoo community. This species is listed in the International Red book as being on the verge of extinction. Creating a reserve and genetically diverse population in zoo conditions will help to save these unique primates from extinction. Moscow zoo takes an active part in the European program for the lowland gorillas’ conservation, in recent years we have managed to achieve significant success and regularly receive healthy offspring. Grown-up cubs go to the leading zoos of Europe, acquire their own offspring and contribute thereby to the conservation of the species", - the General Director of Moscow zoo Svetlana Akulova says.

Lowland gorillas are the largest and most peace-loving representatives of apes. In the wild, they inhabit the territory of Equatorial Africa, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, but in the Congo this species has completely disappeared. A critical reduction of the gorilla population is caused by deforestation, destruction of their forage lands, as well as poaching. In recent years, despite all kinds of legislative prohibitions, gorillas regularly become victims of merchants of rare species of fauna and get to the black market.

Mangroves, mountain forests and secondary rain forests are the favorite habitat of lowland gorillas. Primates are active during daylight hours, and at night they sleep in specific nests, which they build from broken branches and leaves on trees or on the ground. Gorillas are social animals; they live in groups of 5 to 30 members. At the head of the group is always an adult silverback male, who has a harem of females - it is remarkable that unlike many other monkeys, females in a harem are usually not related to each other by kinship. There is a strict hierarchy between the group members, and each individual has a special status. In order to maintain good relations within the group and keep social affinity, gorillas are engaged in the mutual wool combing: in this way, they not only get rid of parasites and maintain personal hygiene, but also prove their loyalty to each other.

Our lowland gorillas can often be found for same activity. They spend most of the day playing with different objects or swarming in the hay, where the keepers hide various sweets (dried fruits, seeds, and nuts). Gorillas are highly developed intellectually, so they need to be given a variety of tasks that allow animals to use not only physical strength, but also, most importantly, the mind.

Born a week ago cub brought a huge wave of interest among the group members. However, they do not show their curiosity in order not to disturb Kira. The next 9 weeks baby will spend in the arms of his mother and then he will begin to crawl on his own, and at the age of 30-40 weeks will learn to walk. During the initial visual examination, the specialists managed to establish that the newborn cub is a healthy female. Now she feeds only on mother's milk and at the age of 4 months she will begin to try the adult feed. The menu of the rest of the group consists of various vegetables, birch and willow branches, fruits, cottage cheese and yogurt. In addition, gorillas enjoy drinking green and black tea, and fruit juice.

Guests of the zoo can already watch the first weeks of life of the little gorilla and her family in the pavilion "House of apes". Gorillas will be kept in warm interior enclosures all winter, and when spring comes and the temperature rises above 15 degrees, animals will spend a lot of time in a spacious outdoor enclosure.