Powell, OH – A baby gorilla was born at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium on Wednesday, September 29 at approximately 2:00 p.m. The baby, whose sex is currently unknown, is being cared for by mother “Cassie” under the watchful eyes of father “Annaka” and two other members of their group.
This is the first offspring for Cassie who was born at the Columbus Zoo in 1993 and the third for Annaka who was born at the Philadelphia Zoo in 1985 and came to the Columbus Zoo in 1993. It is the thirtieth gorilla to be born at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
As part of the Zoo’s normal protocol in anticipation of the birth of a great ape, Cassie was under 24-hour observation prior to the birth. Observations will continue indefinitely during this critical time period in order to monitor the overall health of both the mother and baby including care and feeding of the infant. During this time the group will not be able to be seen by Zoo visitors.
“The Columbus Zoo has been a leader in the care and conservation of gorillas since the historic birth of Colo in 1956” stated Dale Schmidt, President and CEO of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. “This baby is a descendant of Colo’s and is a beautiful reminder of her legacy and the important work done by zoo professionals on behalf of gorillas and other critically endangered animals and habitats.”
The pairing of Cassie and Annaka was recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) for lowland gorillas. The AZA, of which the Columbus Zoo is an accredited member, strives to maintain a sustainable population of the endangered great apes in North America. This birth occurred more than two years after the breeding recommendation from the SSP and after an eight-and-a-half month gestation period. Since January 2009 only seven gorillas, including this baby, have been born in 52 AZA zoos. There are now 17 gorillas at the Columbus Zoo and approximately 350 gorillas in North American zoos.
Habitat loss and deforestation have historically been the primary cause for declining populations of Africa’s great apes, but experts now agree that the illegal commercial bushmeat trade has surpassed habitat loss as the primary threat to ape populations. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium supports numerous conservation projects including the Bushmeat Crisis Task Force, the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance and the Human-Wildlife Conflict Collaboration. In 1991 the Columbus Zoo founded Partners in Conservation to conduct conservation and humanitarian programs benefiting both wildlife and people in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC.) Over the past five years the Columbus Zoo and Partners in Conservation has distributed more than $4 million in conservation grants worldwide. More than $1 million has been devoted to gorilla conservation in their range countries since 1993.
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