Sukari the western lowland gorilla is expecting
Friday, July 19, 2013
Newborn will be one of two infant gorillas born in 2013
ATLANTA – July 19, 2013 – Sukari, a 15-year-old western lowland gorilla, has entered the birth window for her second infant, which could arrive anytime between late July and mid August. The Zoo Atlanta Animal Management and Veterinary Teams have been monitoring the developing fetus via ultrasound since confirming Sukari’s pregnancy in early 2013.
Sukari’s half-sister, Lulu, gave birth to an infant, Andi, in March 2013. Both infant gorillas carry the Zoo’s equivalent of a royal bloodline: They are the fifth and soon-to-be sixth surviving grandchildren of the legendary late Willie B., who passed away in 2000.
“We’re looking forward to meeting Sukari’s new infant. We’re particularly excited about the idea of welcoming not just one but two gorilla infants in 2013,” said Raymond B. King, President and CEO. “Western lowland gorillas are critically endangered, and this is a species that’s particularly near and dear to us at Zoo Atlanta. Willie B. was an icon for two generations of Atlantans, and we can’t think of a finer way to honor his legacy than to celebrate the births of two more of his grandchildren.”
Zoo Atlanta is home to North America’s largest collection of western lowland gorillas, which are currently classified as critically endangered. Habitat loss and poaching are the primary threats to wild populations, which may have declined by as much as 95 percent in some parts of Africa over the past two decades. 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.
The late-summer new arrival will be the second offspring for Sukari and 23-year-old silverback Taz. Sukari’s firstborn, 6-year-old Gunther, now lives in a bachelor group with young males Kali, 7, and Mbeli, 11.
Sukari’s infant will arrive on the heels of another historic birth at Zoo Atlanta: Lun Lun the giant panda gave birth to twins on July 15, 2013. Other high-profile births anticipated in 2013 include an eastern black rhinoceros calf, first offspring of Andazi and the first of its species ever to be born at Zoo Atlanta, and a Bornean orangutan, second offspring of Miri. Both are expected to arrive around September.
Stay tuned for updates on Sukari’s pregnancy.