The newborn female gorilla arrived behind the scenes in the early hours of Oct. 18, inside the Gorilla Forest exhibit
Credit: Como Park Zoo and Conservatory

Sometimes good things come in small packages — specifically newborn, 4-lb. baby girl gorillas.

The Como Park Zoo & Conservatory recently shared the joyful news that after a roughly 8 1/2-month gestation, their 15-year-old female western lowland gorilla, Alice, gave birth in the wee hours of the morning on Oct. 18. The baby “appears healthy, strong, and is bonding with Alice,” reports the zoo, the little ape is also clinging to its mother and nursing.

Credit: Como Park Zoo and Conservatory

This was Alice’s second pregnancy; sadly, she lost a days-old infant in 2014, despite the staff’s great efforts to save the baby.

“First-time gorilla mothers are more likely to experience challenges related to birth and child-rearing,” said John Dee, curator at Como Zoo. “With this birth, everything is tracking as it should. Alice has shown herself to be very attentive, very nurturing, and very protective of her new baby, just as we hoped she would.”

The baby girl’s father is a silverback western lowland gorilla named Schroeder. The 31-year-old male gorilla has been at Como Zoo since 1991, and is now a second-time father. He and a female gorilla named Dara had a baby, Arlene, in February 2015.

“Gorillas are very family oriented,” said Jo Kelly, Senior Zookeeper. “Mom will let other family members see the baby and they will take their cues from mom as to how close they can be.”

Credit: Como Park Zoo and Conservatory

Once the baby is older and more independent, dad and other family members will be allowed to play with the baby. As Alice and her newborn bond, the family troop will remain off exhibit.

The zoo says that gorilla moms are very protective of their young; they typically carry the baby on their chest for its first three months of life. When the baby reaches about six months old, it will shift to ride on its mama’s back, and begin playing and moving about on the ground near mom.

This is the third gorilla birth in Como Park Zoo & Conservatory’s 56-year history of caring for gorillas.

“With this recent addition, Como Zoo continues its involvement in the Gorilla SSP. One of the SSP’s most important roles is to manage gorillas as a population to ensure that the population remains healthy, genetically-diverse and self-sustaining,” states the zoo’s press release. “Native to the lowland forests of Central and Western Africa, western lowland gorillas are critically endangered. Commercial hunting for meat, habitat loss and disease are contributing factors to their status in the wild.”

Keep an eye on the Como Zoo’s Facebook page for updates on Alice and her baby girl.