COLUMBIA – One of Riverbanks Zoo and Garden's western lowland gorillas is expecting the arrival of her first infant this summer.
Now in her second trimester, 12-year-old Kazi is believed to be about four to five months along. The gestation period for gorillas is about 37 weeks.
"Kazi is in good health, and her pregnancy is progressing normally," said John Davis, curator of mammals at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden. "First-time gorilla mothers are, however, more likely to experience challenges related to birth and child-rearing, so we are cautiously optimistic moving forward."
Last May, Riverbanks mourned the loss of its first infant gorilla after the offspring was born in the breech position. According to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), there is an 80% survival rate of infants born to first-time gorilla mothers.
With a successful labor and delivery, this will be the first infant gorilla raised at Riverbanks. Dad, Cenzoo, has one other offspring. The 22-year-old silverback fathered a son in 2005 while living at Busch Gardens in Tampa Bay.
Riverbanks' family troop of western lowland gorillas came to the Zoo in the spring of 2015 as part of the AZA's Gorillas Species Survival Plan (SSP). For nearly 40 years, SSP's have helped ensure the continued existence of endangered animals through breeding and transfer plans among AZA-accredited institutions.
Western lowland gorillas are considered critically endangered with only about 100,000 individuals remaining in the wild. Illegal hunting is considered the population's main threat; however, habitat destruction for timber and human encroachment with the rise in palm oil plantations also are major contributors to the gorillas' dramatic decline.