Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo is keeping a close eye on western lowland gorilla Rollie and her new baby

By Kelli Bender
May 15, 2019 03:03 PM

Rollie has perfect timing.

The western lowland gorilla gave birth to an adorable baby boy on Mother’s Day, May 12, at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. The well-timed bundle of joy is Rollie’s second child. The mother ape gave birth to her first child, daughter Nayembi, in 2012.

“As with any birth, we are cautiously optimistic about the latest arrival. Rollie is an experienced mother who is displaying appropriate maternal skills and care,” said the zoo’s Curator of Primates, Jill Moyse, in a statement.

Video of the unnamed baby’s birth shows Rollie picking up the baby seconds after he is born and carrying the little primate around her indoor habitat. The newborn hasn’t strayed far from this spot. Mom has kept the baby in her arms, allowing the infant to easily plant kisses on his parent.

Rollie’s mate, Kwan, is staying close too. The zoo says that the silverback gorilla is keeping an eye on the mother-son pair to make sure they stay safe during this vulnerable time.

Christopher Bijalba / Lincoln Park Zoo

The zoo’s staff is monitoring Rollie and her baby as well. So far the newborn gorilla is surpassing all of his “critical milestones,” and both he and mom appear to be happy and healthy.

Christopher Bijalba / Lincoln Park Zoo
Christopher Bijalba / Lincoln Park Zoo

To help Rollie, Kwan, and the five other gorillas that are part of the Lincoln Park Zoo’s troop, acclimate to the new arrival, the gorillas’ indoor habitat at the zoo is closed to the public. The Regenstein Center for African Apes is set to reopen on May 18.

Christopher Bijalba / Lincoln Park Zoo
Christopher Bijalba / Lincoln Park Zoo

This infant’s arrival, the 53rd western lowland gorilla birth in the zoo’s history, is seen as an important conservation win. Western lowland gorillas are critically endangered, and each gorilla birth helps extends the species’ lifespan. Along with supporting conservation in Chicago, Lincoln Park Zoo also works in the Republic of the Congo to facilitate “new strategies to mitigate the impact of human and consumer behaviors” on wild gorillas.