Baby gorilla dies during birth at Calgary Zoo

It was a devastating blow to the gorilla troop at the Calgary Zoo this week as a western lowland gorilla delivered a baby boy, but the infant did not survive the birth.

Mom-to-be Yewande gave birth Monday and based on breeding dates and ultrasound measurements, it seems the baby may have been premature, the zoo announced Friday.

The zoo was expecting the baby to come at the end of April or early May.

“Our Animal Care and Veterinary teams did everything possible to prepare Yewande and the troop for a successful birth, and we are saddened by the outcome,” Jamie Dorgan, the zoo’s director of animal care, health & welfare, said in a statement. “We are focused on supporting the troop, especially Yewande, and the animal care staff are focused on caring for the gorilla troop daily, in every way possible as they grieve this loss in the days and weeks to come.”

This was Yewande’s first pregnancy. Photo: Calgary Zoo/Facebook

Yewande was born in 2008 at the Calgary Zoo to Zuri, a longtime resident of the. The 12-year-old gorilla was was recommended for breeding with the troop’s silverback, Jasiri, 22, who came to the Calgary Zoo in 2019 from Zoo Atlanta where he was born.

Jasiri is the troop’s 22-year-old silverback gorilla. Photo: Calgary Zoo/Facebook

The pairing recommendation came as part of the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums’s Species Survival Plan for western lowland gorillas. Matches are made among zoos to help preserve genetic diversity of the species even though the animals are in captivity.

Yewande was clearly pregnant in March. Here she is searching for treats. Photo: Calgary Zoo/Facebook

In the wild, the species is considered critically endangered due to poaching, disease and habitat destruction. Their numbers have declined about 60 per cent in the last 25 years.

The Calgary Zoo said it was always cautious about this pregnancy.

First time gorilla mothers and fathers sometimes don’t find success, officials explained.

The last gorilla birth at the Calgary Zoo was a baby named Kimani, who just turned five.

The troop’s indoor facility remains closed to the public amid the pandemic and now, the outdoor exhibit will be closed to visitors as well to give the gorilla family time to heal.

Zookeepers are grieving too.

“The Calgary Zoo’s western lowland gorilla troop is adored by people around the world,” the facility said. “We know this loss will be felt by many, especially our staff, volunteers and donors.”

**GORILLA TROOP UPDATE** In the early morning hours of Monday, western lowland gorilla Mom-to-be "Yewande" gave birth to…

Posted by The Calgary Zoo on Friday, March 26, 2021

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