Western Lowland Gorilla Born at Zoo Atlanta
Friday, March 15, 2013

Willie B.’s newest grandchild is a third-generation ambassador for a critically endangered species

Lulu, a 13-year-old western lowland gorilla, gave birth to an infant late in the evening on March 14, 2013. The newborn is Lulu’s first surviving offspring and the seventh for 23-year-old family leader Taz. The infant is a grandchild of Zoo Atlanta’s most legendary resident, the late Willie B.

The newborn appears to be healthy, and Lulu has been observed nursing. Provided the new mother continues to provide appropriate maternal care, the pair may be seen in their outdoor habitat as early as Saturday, March 16. The Animal Management and Veterinary Teams continue to monitor Lulu and the infant closely; she has been participating in voluntary prenatal ultrasounds since staff confirmed her pregnancy in late summer 2012.

The birth coincides with a banner year for the world-class Ford African Rain Forest at Zoo Atlanta, taking place just months before the 25th anniversary of the day the infant’s famous grandfather took his first steps into a naturalistic habitat. Willie B. passed away in 2000 after siring five offspring; Lulu is his youngest.

“We celebrate the beginning of any new life, but it’s especially meaningful to welcome another member of what is now the third generation of Willie B.’s family,” said Raymond B. King, President and CEO. “Willie B. is symbolic of the rebirth of Zoo Atlanta, and he became an icon in his lifetime. We want to see his children and grandchildren continue to serve as ambassadors for a species that many people in Atlanta might never have been moved to protect, had they not grown up with this family.”

Although numerous at Zoo Atlanta, which houses North America’s largest gorilla collection, western lowland gorillas face a starkly different outlook in the wild. The species is critically endangered, with population declines of as much as 95 percent in some parts of Africa over the last two decades as a result of habitat loss and poaching.

Zoo Atlanta is a national center of excellence for the care and study of gorillas, with more than 120 published research papers authored or co-authored by Zoo Atlanta staff. In 2011, Zoo Atlanta received the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Edward H. Bean Award for Scientific Achievement in recognition of its long-term commitment to the species.

Lulu’s infant is the 19th gorilla born at Zoo Atlanta since the opening of The Ford African Rain Forest in 1988, and the newborn is not the only one of Willie B.’s grandchildren expected in 2013. Lulu’s half-sister, Sukari, is due in August.

Stay tuned for more updates on mother and infant.