Three weeks after the historic birth on January 18, the zoo's animal care staff were able to confirm the sex of the as-of-yet unnamed baby gorilla on Monday.
The Los Angeles Zoo is celebrating the arrival of an adorable new resident; one who'd been in the waiting for over 20 years now. Last month, the zoo announced the birth of its first baby gorilla in more than 2 decades, born to critically endangered western lowland gorillas Kelly, 32, and first-time mother N'djia (25). Three weeks after the historic birth on January 18, the zoo's animal care staff were able to confirm the sex of the as-of-yet unnamed baby gorilla on Monday, ecstatically announcing on Instagram: "It's a girl!"
"After three weeks of bonding and clinging tightly to her mother, L.A. Zoo animal care staff were finally able to confirm the baby’s sex as female. The Zoo feels very fortunate as the pregnancy and birth went extremely well, and the result led to a historic moment for the Los Angeles community as it is the first birth of a gorilla baby at the L.A. Zoo in over 20 years," the zoo stated on its website. Explaining the significance of the birth in a statement, Beth Schaefer, director of animal programs at the L.A. Zoo, said, "The last few weeks have been so exciting watching first-time mom N’djia with her new baby."
"Having gorillas in our zoo is so important so we can connect Angelinos to the amazing biodiversity that exists on this planet and to help ensure that these beings will never go extinct. Like with humans, each mom and baby are different, so some are adventurous and test boundaries earlier, while others stay close for a longer amount of time. We hope guests are enjoying this journey as much as we are," Schaefer added. Candace Sclimenti, curator of mammals at the L.A. Zoo, said the baby gorilla provides the zoo an opportunity to educate the public about conservation.
"Every birth is a celebration, both in zoos and in the wild. We are thrilled about this baby because she will provide additional attention to this critically endangered species. The L.A. Zoo has the unique opportunity to teach the public about conservation and what they can do to save animals from the threats they are facing in the wild," said Sclimenti. According to the zoo, guests would be able to spot the little one clinging to its mother while nursing and observing her surroundings for the next 4 to 6 months. "Gorilla infants typically weigh about three to four pounds at birth and are expected to grow quickly. N'djia will carry her baby against her chest for the first several months until the baby can hang on her mother’s back, which frees up N’djia’s hands to walk and carry food," the zoo stated.
The new mother, N'djia was brought to the L.A. Zoo in 2018 from the San Diego Zoo as part of a breeding recommendation through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan (SSP) Program. After animal care staff observed N'djia breeding with the male silverback gorilla Kelly, they confirmed the pregnancy through a series of at-home pregnancy tests. "We’re really excited to share the news of this pregnancy with the public," Schaefer said at the time. "The western lowland gorilla is critically endangered in the wild, so having an insurance population in zoos is extremely important."
Speaking of the new parents, Sclimenti said, "I’m optimistic N’djia will be a great mom. Although she’s a first-time mother, she’s lived in a group with babies before. While female gorillas carry the majority of responsibility for rearing their young, Kelly has fathered offspring and has proven to be a very patient, playful dad. As a team, we’re experiencing many ‘firsts’ with this pregnancy. We’re excited to share everything we’re learning with the public because we want to create connections between our guests and wildlife."