Florida Zoo Welcomes 'Critically Endangered' Baby Gorilla: 'We Have Many Reasons to Celebrate'

The new addition is the first western lowland gorilla to be born at Florida's Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens since 2018

Jacksonville Zoo And Gardens Welcomes Critically Endangered Gorilla Infant
Photo: Lynde Nunn

The animal family at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens has expanded by one!

Early Friday morning, western lowland gorilla Madini gave birth to a male baby at the Florida zoo, marking the fifth gorilla birth at the facility, per a zoo press release. The Jacksonville Zoo hasn't welcomed a new gorilla baby since 2018.

The newborn primate is the third viable offspring for his 44-year-old dad Lash and the second for 24-year-old Madini. Patty, Madini's daughter, still resides at the zoo and will turn 6 years old next month.

Jacksonville Zoo And Gardens Welcomes Critically Endangered Gorilla Infant
John Reed

According to the zoo, the Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP) — a group of zoo professionals who help keep a genetically diverse gorilla population at zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) — matched Madini and Lash as a breeding pair.

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The yet-to-be-named baby gorilla is now the ninth member of the largest gorilla group in the Jacksonville Zoo's history.

"We have many reasons to celebrate this new infant," Tracy Fenn, assistant curator of mammals at the zoo, said in a statement. "He will further enrich the social environment and experience of his amazing group and strengthen the sustainability of the Gorilla SSP."

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Western lowland gorillas are the most common gorilla subspecies living in the forests and swamplands of central Africa, according to the Jacksonville Zoo. However, they are still "critically endangered" due to various factors, including "deforestation, poaching, and introduced diseases."

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