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Contact(s):For More Information, contact:
Susan Altrui
(501) 661-7208
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saltrui@littlerock.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE :
Tuesday, October 10, 2006

ZOO CELEBRATES BIRTH OF BABY GORILLA

Western Lowland Gorilla Born to Gorillas Sekani and Fossey

LITTLE ROCK (October 10, 2006) - The Little Rock Zoo is proud to announce the birth of a baby western lowland gorilla born at 12:40 pm today to gorillas Sekani and Fossey.

The baby gorilla, the first baby gorilla born at the Little Rock Zoo, is reported to be in good health, say Zoo officials. Sekani, mother of the baby gorilla, was showing signs of labor around 7:15 am this morning. Animal keeper Ann Rademacher was present during the birth. Sekani gave birth in her inside holding area while Fossey, father of the baby, and troop mate Catherine, were present.

Sekani, a first-time mother, immediately inspected, cleaned, and cradled her new baby and has so far shown signs of good motherly instinct. The baby is making noises and opened its eyes after birth. Sekani is also placing the baby on her back while she works organizing and rearranging the wood wool in her nesting area. Zoo staff note that while all behaviors appear to be normal for a gorilla mother, the next few weeks will be critical in the development of the offspring.

“This is a very critical time for the survival of the infant. Like any newborn, the baby is very fragile and all precautions must be taken to ensure that Sekani and her new infant are comfortable and are provided a safe and controlled environment,” said Mark Shaw, general curator.

Zoo staff will monitor the mother and baby’s health around the clock for the next few weeks. In particular, Zoo staff will look for indications that Sekani is properly caring for her new infant and that the two are bonding.

The sex of the infant is still unknown and a name has yet to be selected.

To allow the infant to bond with the entire gorilla family, most members of the family will be off exhibit for the next few weeks. The Zoo’s other gorillas Trudy, Brutus, and JJ will continue to be on exhibit. Only specially designated Zoo personnel will be allowed access to the gorillas during this critical time.

Sekani, mother of the baby, is a 15-year-old western lowland gorilla acquired by the Little Rock Zoo from the Toronto Zoo in 2004. Fossey is a 20-year-old gorilla acquired by the Zoo in 1993 from the Columbus Zoo. The pair was recommended for breeding by the Species Survival Plan (SSP) a captive breeding and conservation program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

The Little Rock Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you and a better future for all living things. With its more than 200 accredited members, AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation and your link to helping animals in their native habitats. For more information, visit www.aza.org.

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