Bristol Zoo is delighted to announce the birth of a baby gorilla.
The little Western lowland gorilla was born to mum, Touni, and dad Jock in the early hours of Saturday morning (22 April).
Touni, who is a first time mum, gave birth inside the Gorilla House alongside the rest of the troop and is said to be relaxed, eating and drinking well and has been seen cradling and stroking her baby.
The sex of the infant is not yet known, but keepers say it appears strong and has been seen suckling.
Bristol Zoo’s team leader of large mammals, Sarah Gedman, said: “Despite being a first time mum, Touni is behaving exactly as she should and is doing brilliantly. We have seen her nuzzling the baby up to her neck, which is a lovely maternal behaviour. She is staying very close to Jock for comfort and security.
“We will be closely observing mum and baby over the coming days and weeks to ensure both continue to bond and that baby feeds well and continues to thrive.”
Touni has been at the Zoo in Clifton since September 2015 after coming from La Vallée des Singes Zoo in France.
The nine-year-old gorilla was brought to Bristol because she had reached sexual maturity. In the wild, sexually mature females tend to leave their natal group to join a silverback or another breeding group.
Sarah added: “Although this is her first baby, Touni is part of a well-established family group and has seen plenty of births and maternal behaviour in her natal troop in France. Kuki, our youngest male has been seen peeking at the baby, and the females in the group are all showing interest in the new arrival but are keeping a respectful distance.”
The new arrival takes the total number of gorillas living at Bristol Zoo to eight. The refurbished and extended Gorilla House opened in 2013 and is able to accommodate up to 10 gorillas in a state-of-the-art enclosure with a reinforced glass ceiling, allowing visitors to see gorillas walking overhead.
Bristol Zoological Society has been involved in primate conservation since the late 1990s, supporting projects to prevent some of the most threatened species from becoming extinct.
Alongside working with local communities around areas of high biodiversity in primate habitat countries, Bristol Zoo also supports the largest gorilla sanctuary in Africa, which is home to around 17 young gorillas, 90 chimpanzees and over 150 monkeys.
In Cameroon, gorillas and chimpanzees are hunted for their meat and their young taken and sold as pets, often only to end up abandoned or dying of starvation. Sanctuaries play a vital role in protecting and preserving this charismatic species by taking in orphaned chimps and gorillas, giving them medical attention and, most importantly, a safe home.
Bristol Zoo Gardens is a conservation and education charity and relies on the generous support of the public not only to fund its important work in the zoo, but also its vital conservation and research projects spanning five continents.