The Dallas Zoo has welcomed its first baby gorilla in 20 years.
The baby was born June 25 to 22-year-old critically endangered western lowland gorilla, Hope. She’s been keeping the baby close to her since birth — so close that zookeepers have not been able to determine a gender yet, the zoo said in its announcement Monday.
It’s the second baby for Hope, who delivered her first in 2004 at the zoo in Albuquerque, N.M., She arrived at the Dallas Zoo in February 2017. And it’s the first for 22-year-old dad, Subira. He was the first member of the troop to greet the baby by “gently putting his lips on the infant’s head shortly after birth,” according to the zoo.
“Welcoming a critically endangered gorilla into our family is one of the most significant animal announcements we can make, and we’ve waited patiently for 20 years for this moment,” said Gregg Hudson, Dallas Zoo’s president and CEO, in a statement.
“We’ve dedicated years of conservation field work to saving gorillas in the wild and now we’re proudly increasing their numbers in human care. We’re truly beaming with pride,” Hudson continued.
Habitat destruction, animal trafficking, poaching and disease are causing the gorilla population to dwindle.
The western lowland gorillas, which can be found in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Equatorial Guinea, are considered “critically endangered.” That status is worse than endangered, but it’s not as severe as “extinct in the wild,” according to the World Wildlife Foundation.
There are approximately 350,000 western lowland gorillas left in Africa, according to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, a conservation organization and Dallas Zoo partner.
Nearly 300 western lowland gorillas live in American Zoo Association-accredited zoos. (Update: The Dallas Zoo’s recent addition was introduced to the public on July 5.)
GORILLA BABY IS OUT! Our first baby gorilla in 20 years is officially melting hearts everywhere – this is a MUST WATCH & RT. Hope & her baby will be out in the gorilla habitat in the early mornings, weather permitting.
— Dallas Zoo (@DallasZoo) July 5, 2018