A critically endangered baby gorilla passed away only six days after being born at Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, LA. The baby gorilla was the first to be born at that zoo in the last 24 years.
The six-day-old gorilla was born to 13-year-old Tumani, but sadly passed away on Thursday. The cause of death is still uncertain. However, zoo officials are arranging a necropsy to help decide the reasons why the young gorilla died.
“Animal care staff noticed on Wednesday evening the gorilla infant seemed lethargic and weak in the arms of the mother,” read a statement from the Audubon Zoo. “The infant was transferred to the Zoo’s animal hospital, but the veterinarian team could not revive the infant. Tumani is currently being monitored by Audubon’s veterinary team. And the entire troop was given the opportunity to grieve the loss of the infant.”
Zoo Heartbroken Over the Death of the Baby Gorilla
Tumani, the mother gorilla, is one of Audubon Zoo’s western lowland gorillas. The zoo’s animal care team took months getting the parents ready for their infant to enter the world. The expecting mom and the baby’s father, Okpara, a 26-year-old silverback gorilla, received training on how to care for the baby. In fact, the zoo’s animal care team even worked with the rest of the gorilla troop to help ensure the best chance of survival for the baby.
Tumani and her baby, which had not received a name yet, “initially appeared to be doing very well,” the zoo’s statement stated. The baby was eating normally and was coming along just fine. Yet, there was still some concern over a lack of “adequate lactation” from Tumani to support her baby.
“We are heartbroken over the loss,” Ron Forman, president of the Audubon Nature Institute, said in a statement. “This has been a work in progress for many years, from the introduction of the new troop members to the announcement of the birth, everyone involved has worked tirelessly. I am incredibly proud of our team. We will continue to contribute to the conservation of this amazing species.”
The birth of the baby became a symbol of hope for the future of western lowland gorillas. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has labeled the gorillas as critically endangered. Consequently, the largest primates experienced a population decline of more than 80% because of illegal hunting, disease, and habitat loss.
Audubon Zoo specializes in gorilla conservation efforts. They said that it isn’t out of the ordinary for a first-time gorilla mother to lose her baby. Regardless, the death has caused “a profoundly hard time for the Audubon family.”