When zoos breed western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla), they must be very careful. This species is critically endangered, so maintaining genetic diversity is of the utmost importance.
The Bronx Zoo is part of the Wildlife Conservation Society and participates in responsible breeding of its animals. More than 20 western lowland gorillas are featured at the zoo’s huge Congo Gorilla Forest exhibit; the largest captive group on the continent. This helps mimic natural living situations for the gorillas, who typically have many females dominated by one alpha male.
The alpha male of this group is 31-year-old Ernie, who has just become a father again twice over with two females giving birth about a month apart. Julia is a 33-year-old gorilla who gave birth to her third baby on March 10, and 19-year-old Tuti had her second baby on April 17.
Gorilla mothers constantly carry their babies for the first 4 months of life, so it is not yet known what gender the newborn half-siblings are. Even after they are not in constant contact with their mothers, the babies will still depend on them for supplemental nursing until they are about 4 years old.
If you aren’t able to make it to the Bronx Zoo to see these adorable newborns in their exhibit, you don’t have to miss out. The zoo has released a video introducing them to the world!