CONTACT: Kyle Shepherd
Direct: 502-238-5331 | Media Only: 502-744-5639
The Louisville Zoo is happy to announce that gorillas Mia Moja and Mshindi are expecting. Soon-to-be mom Mia Moja is doing well and her weekly ultrasounds indicate that all things are on track for an arrival of a baby gorilla by May 2016.
Like a pregnant human, Mia’s tastes changed a bit. In her first trimester, she would only drink her grape juice and no other juices. Once through the first trimester, she returned to drinking the full range of juices: grape, apple, cranberry and orange. Keepers have added prenatal vitamins to her usual diet of vegetables and fruit.
Gestation for a gorilla is 8.5 months. Once born, gorilla babies cling to their mothers as mom goes about her day while protecting the baby. Development of a baby gorilla is rapid. A gorilla mother will care for her young for approximately four years and as the baby grows, the rest of the gorilla group continues to participate in their social development until the young gorilla reaches maturity.
Mia Moja, 27, joined us from Zoo Atlanta where she was born. Mshindi, 28, joined us from the Saint Louis Zoo. This will be the second baby for silverback Mshindi and Mia Moja, who gave birth to a female gorilla named Misha in 2010.
This baby will be the third gorilla born at the Louisville Zoo since it opened the award-winning Gorilla Forest exhibit in 2002. Baby Azizi was born to Makari and Jojo in 2003, and all three moved to Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo in May 2004.
This gorilla birth is part of a breeding recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP). Breeding plans work to improve the genetic diversity of managed animal populations.
The birth will bring the total number of western lowland gorillas at the award-winning Gorilla Forest to eleven. Mshindi’s gorilla group is rounded out by two other females: 26-year-old Paki from the Bronx Zoo in New York where she was born, and 32-year-old Kweli, who was born at the Cincinatti Zoo.
Details of a naming contest will be announced after the birth. Visit Louisvillezoo.org/baby to keep up-to-date.
Western lowland gorillas are considered critically endangered with 100,000 estimated to be left in the remnant wild. There are about 353 in 51 AZA institutions in North America. Due to habitat destruction primarily caused by mining, logging and agricultural expansion, their numbers continue to shrink. Coltan mining in particular is impacting the gorilla population. Coltan is a black metallic mineral that is used in nearly every electronic device today including cellphones. The Louisville Zoo partners with Louisville-based Eco Cell and collects old cell phones to help reduce the need for additional mining in and around gorilla habitats. The bushmeat trade and the Ebola virus are also major threats.
The Louisville Zoo, a non-profit organization and state zoo of Kentucky, is dedicated to bettering the bond between people and our planet by providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for visitors, and leadership in scientific research and conservation education. The Zoo is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) and by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).