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Jacksonville Zoo Celebrates Birth Of Critically Endangered Gorilla

Madini and Lash are the proud parents of a baby western lowland gorilla born Friday at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.

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Credit Lynde Nunn / Via Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

The male infant is the third viable offspring of 44-year-old Lash and the second for 24-year-old Madini.

Madini was born in 1996 to mother Bulera, and they both were transferred to Jacksonville in November 2006. Lash was born on Christmas Day in 1976 and he moved to Jacksonville in 1998.

He lived in a bachelor group with Rumpel for eight years before being introduced to Madini and Bulera.

The Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP) recommended Madini and Lash be teamed up to breed.

This infant is now the ninth member of the largest gorilla group in the zoo’s history.

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Credit Lynde Nunn / Via Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

“We have many reasons to celebrate this new infant. He will further enrich the social environment and experience of his amazing group and strengthen the sustainability of the Gorilla SSP. Although raising Gandai was an incredibly rewarding experience, the gorilla care staff is elated to see this infant thriving in the care of his own mother,” said Tracy Fenn, Assistant Curator of Mammals, in an email to WJCT News.

Western lowland gorillas are the most widespread of the gorilla subspecies, inhabiting the forests and swampland of central Africa. However, the zoo says the subspecies is critically endangered due to deforestation, poaching and introduced diseases.

The zoo said mature male gorillas, or “Silverbacks,” are much larger than females. Infants usually weigh around four pounds at birth and are dependent on their mothers for up to five years. 

The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens will be raising awareness of species like the western lowland gorilla at Party for the Planet on Saturday, April 24.

This event will be presented by The Wild Things, a young professional group at the zoo, and is a celebration of Earth Day, Endangered Species Day and World Oceans Day.

The zoo is encouraging guests to donate old cell phones to help save gorilla species in the wild. More information is available here.  

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.