Baby gorilla born at Pittsburgh zoo

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Moka, the female gorilla at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, gave birth Friday afternoon to a healthy baby, her second in as many years.

The mother, a western lowland gorilla, and baby are doing fine, although zoo keepers have not gotten close enough to determine if the baby is a boy or a girl, said Tracy Gray, a zoo spokeswoman, who on Monday confirmed the birth.

"We want to give the mom and baby time to bond," Ms. Gray said, adding that media access will be allowed Wednesday.

Gorillas are very protective of their babies, Ms. Gray said, and it's important for the bonding to occur and for the baby to begin nursing. The mother gorilla carries the baby on her chest for the first three months of its life and continues to stay close for the first six months or longer, according to a news release from the zoo in February announcing that Moka was pregnant.

Moka mated with Mrithi, one of the zoo's silverback males, Ms. Gray said. The gestation period for gorillas is about eight months. At birth, baby gorillas weigh between 4 and 5 pounds.

Moka had a male baby last year, but it died when it was 4 months old. Tests have not determined a cause of death. The news release said the mortality rate for infant gorillas in the first few months of life is about 40 percent.

Western lowland gorillas are an endangered species, the zoo's release said, due to loss of habitat, poaching and disease.

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Don Hopey: dhopey@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1983.


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