Belfast Zoo celebrates arrival of baby gorilla Olivia
A CRITICALLY endangered Western lowland gorilla has been born at Belfast Zoo.
Olivia arrived on August 28 to parents Namoki and Gugas. However, keepers only recently discovered the new arrival was a girl, as gorilla babies cling to their mother’s stomach for the first few months.
Western lowland gorillas come from the dense forests of western central Africa.
Her father Gugas, a silverback gorilla, was born in the wild but had an unfortunate start to life as his parents were killed, probably for bushmeat.
As a young, orphaned gorilla, he was acquired by a Portuguese circus and became very ill.
But he was later abandoned at the gates of Lisbon Zoo and then moved to Stuttgart Zoo to live in a nursery group for orphaned gorillas. He arrived at Belfast Zoo in 1998 and is genetically very important to the European breeding programme as he is under-represented in the zoo population.
Julie Mansell from Belfast Zoo said: "All ape species are endangered or critically endangered.
"Gorillas are facing the real and severe risk of extinction in their native habitat. The all-too familiar problem of habitat loss and the gruesome yet growing bushmeat trade are the main reasons for this iconic species' decline.
"Not only are the young targeted for the pet trade but adults are also killed for bushmeat and trophy hunting."
She added: "Our mission, as a zoo, is to be a major force in conserving and safeguarding habitats and wildlife to make a significant contribution to their survival in the future".
As well as Namoki and Gugas, the new arrival has joined Delilah, Kwanza, Kamili and infants, Baako and Kibibi.