Captive-bred gorillas give birth in the wild

Published June 30, 2021
BATEKE: A gorilla cradles its baby at a wildlife reserve in Gabon.—AFP
BATEKE: A gorilla cradles its baby at a wildlife reserve in Gabon.—AFP

PARIS: A baby gorilla has been born in the wild in Gabon from two parents who grew up in captivity in Europe, in a world-first that was hailed by conservationists of the endangered species on Tuesday.

The baby gorilla is thought to have been delivered on the night of June 13 in the Bateke Plateau National Park in the southeast of Gabon in central Africa.

Its 13-year-old mother Mayombe was born in the ZooParc de Beauval in France, while 15-year-old father Djongo was raised in the Port Lympne Safari Park in southeast England.

The pair of western lowland gorillas were introduced to the Gabon park in 2019 and 2013 respectively and their mating represents a breakthrough in the complicated process of re-wilding.

“It’s extraordinary news, a very significant world-first for the conservation of this species which is in serious danger of becoming extinct,” Delphine Delord, assistant director of Beauval zoo, said.

The Aspinall Foundation, which runs the Port Lympne Safari Park, reported the infant gorilla to be in good health.

It released photos and a video of Mayombe cradling her newborn, adding that it was “delighted to announce the first ever birth to re-wilded, captive-born gorillas.” “This is a pivotal moment for wildlife conservation and a hugely emotional day for our entire team,” chairman Damian Aspinall said in a statement.

Almost 80 percent of Gabon is covered by forests, and primate habitation and protection programmes have been set up in its parks in recent years to boost tourism.

Published in Dawn, June 30th, 2021

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