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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Loving Gorilla Mom

If you wake up my baby I’ll go ape! The moment a 200lb gorilla cradles her newborn baby seconds after giving birth

Five years ago she became the first gorilla in the world to have fertility treatment.

So it’s little wonder Salome looks utterly content as she cradles her newborn – who arrived following nothing more complicated than a bit of monkeying around.

The western lowland gorilla gave birth on Tuesday, but the baby has not yet been named because Salome, 35, is so protective of her third child that she won’t loosen her grip for keepers to determine its sex. 

I'll never let you go: Salome cradles her sleeping newborn at Bristol Zoo. The gorilla house has been temporarily closed to allow the apes to bond with the new arrival

John Partridge, senior curator of animals at Bristol Zoo, said: ‘It is still very early days, but Salome is a great mother and has been cradling and cuddling her baby affectionately.

‘Salome keeps the baby very close and we are keen to give the gorillas space, therefore it is still too early to determine the sex of the baby.’

Salome was given the human fertility drug Clomid – which encourages the ovaries to release eggs – in 2006 after her keepers noticed she had failed to conceive despite mating regularly with partner Jock.

The treatment was a success and she gave birth to a son, Komale, later that year. Her first baby was conceived naturally and born in 1988.

Furry much in love: Salome cradling her newborn gorilla baby, still wet seconds after being born at Bristol Zoo Gardens yesterday. The baby's father Jock, is also bonding with the new arrival

I only have eyes for you: Hours later Salome is still cuddling her new baby, which is starting to open its eyes

Snoozy does it: All this mothering is a tiring business. Salome manages to get a few minutes shut eye while the baby nestles in close

You still there? Mummy strokes her baby gently with one finger while she takes the opportunity to rest in the straw bedding

This year Bristol Zoo celebrates its 175th birthday and is participating in the European Zoo Association’s Ape Campaign, which aims to raise funds and awareness of the threats facing gorillas in the wild.

The gorillas at Bristol Zoo are part of an international conservation breeding programme for the western lowland gorilla, which is a critically endangered species.

Gentle giant: Salome takes her tiny new addition outside for some fresh air while it clings on to her

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