Jacksonville Zoo goes bananas over birth of baby gorilla

Zookeepers separated mom & baby, but hope to reunite them in coming months

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens went bananas last week when its 22-year-old Western lowland gorilla, Kumbuka, gave birth to a healthy infant.

Hours after the birth of the baby gorilla, zookeepers said, they were forced to separate the mother and baby because she was cradling and carrying her cub improperly -- similarly to the way she did when she lost two other babies born at another zoo. 

PHOTOS: Jacksonville Zoo celebrates birth of Western lowland gorilla

"Kumbuka, the mom, is actually deaf," Dan Maloney, the Jacksonville Zoo's deputy director of Animal Care and Conservation, told News4Jax on Friday. "It's theorized that her hearing disability has prevented her from picking up the cues that would help her care for her youngster in an appropriate fashion."

Her cub was put on a liquid diet, and zookeepers have been monitoring her around the clock.

"They are also encouraging her to ride on their backs and hold on just like they would her mom," Maloney said. "The preparation and all of the care is leading to the goal of getting her back with her mother."


Trainers have already begun showing Kumbuka the proper way to hold her baby. They hope to reunite the pair in three to four months and then, eventually, introduce the baby to the rest of the gorillas in the newly-renovated home for the great apes, African Forest.

"Welcoming the newest member of our zoo family is always exciting, and this little gorilla's arrival is both special and challenging," Maloney said. "I'm so proud of the animal care and health teams who are working so hard on behalf of Kumbuka and her baby."

The cub will be named at a zoo event, the Toast to Conservation, on Nov. 17.

Zoo Celebrating Birth of Endangered Western Lowland Gorilla

We are pleased to announce that 22-year-old, Western lowland gorilla Kumbuka has given birth to a healthy infant! The 4.8-pound female was born on Friday, September 28th at 1:30 pm. Kumbuka’s initial maternal behavior toward the baby was perfect and normal. Unfortunately, Kumbuka was cradling and carrying her youngster improperly and the extremely difficult decision was made to remove Kumbuka’s baby for short-term assisted rearing by gorilla care staff. To learn more about Kumbuka and her infant, check out our latest press release: http://jacksonvillezoo.org/press

Posted by Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens on Wednesday, October 3, 2018