In an exciting new development, New Orleans Audubon Zoo has announced that Tumani - a 13-year-old western lowland gorilla - is expecting her first baby! The pregnancy is the result of successful breeding between Tumani and Okpara, a 26-year-old silverback gorilla, and it will mark the first gorilla birth at Audubon Zoo in 24 years. Issuing a statement, Audubon Nature Institute President and CEO Ron Forman said:
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"So much hard work and dedication has gone into welcoming our first gorilla birth in more than two decades. By visiting an AZA-accredited zoo like Audubon, you are supporting our conservation efforts for critically endangered species like western lowland gorillas."
The pregnancy is the result of successful breeding between Tumani and Okpara, a 26-year-old silverback gorilla. IMAGE: Audubon Zoo
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the western lowland gorilla has seen a population decline of more than 80% due to illegal hunting, disease, habitat loss, and an increase in poaching. With Tumani's bundle of joy expected to arrive later this summer, it looks as though the species has a greater chance at long-term sustainability.
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Tumani is due to give birth later this summer. IMAGE: Audubon Zoo
In lieu of the good news, the staff at Audubon Zoo have been working around the clock to prepare Tumani for motherhood:
"We are working closely with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' gorilla birth plan to guarantee that Tumani and the infant are receiving the best prenatal care," said Audubon Zoo's Senior Veterinarian Dr. Robert MacLean.
He explained: "There are many risks involved with gorilla births, especially in a troop unfamiliar with an infant, but we are working with the entire troop to ensure they are ready for the new addition."
In addition, another western lowland gorilla at the zoo - Alafia - is also receiving daily training so that she can help Tumani to take care of the infant or act as a foster mother. Tumani's birth window for the infant is estimated between July 15 and August 20.
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