Who Knew? Audubon Zoo’s Pregnant Gorilla taking new mom classes

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Western Lowland Gorilla, Tumani Audubon Zoo July 1, 2020

News of a historic pregnancy at the Audubon Zoo puts New Orleans in the conservation spotlight! This will be the first critically endangered western lowland gorilla born at the Zoo in 24 years.

The 13-year-old gorilla and first time mother Tumani was brought to the Audubon Zoo three years ago with the intention to breed her. Tumani began to breed with a 26 year old male silverback gorilla named Okpara.

Liz Wilson of the Audubon Zoo says “Everyone was incredibly excited. She had been taken off of birth control, so we were expecting and  hoping that she would conceive, so it was very, very happy news to be able to confirm the pregnancy.”

How did they learn she was pregnant? Wilson says “You can do pregnancy tests but how we really confirm it, just like with humans, is being able to do an ultrasound and being able to see the heartbeat. And that’s how we were able to tell and confirm that we were pregnant with a gorilla infant.”

Tumani is already taking classes in motherhood, Wilson states, “We’re spending a lot of time with her using a bottle to desensitize her to that. Also using a doll that she moves towards, picks up and then brings it back to the animal care staff, and then pairing that with the bottle so should we need to supplement the infant at any point, she knows that she can bring the baby to us and that we can provide that nourishment to keep the baby thriving.” 

If you would like to see the soon to be mom and dad. The Audubon Zoo is open. You’ll need to make reservations on the Audubon Zoo’s web site. If you can’t make it to the Zoo,  you can also help by Donating to the Zoo’s Recovery Fund. That  helps cover costs for medical care, food, and habit maintenance.

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