Captive-bred gorillas give birth in the wild: zoo

Tours (France) (AFP) –


A baby gorilla has been born in the wild in Gabon from two parents who grew up in captivity in Europe, in a world-first that has delighted conservationists of the endangered species, the zoos announced on Tuesday.

The baby gorilla is thought to have been born on the night of June 13 in the Bateke Plateau National Park in the southeast of Gabon in central Africa.

The baby's 13-year-old mother Mayombe was born in the ZooParc de Beauval in France, while 15-year-old father Djongo was raised in the Port Lympne Safari Park in southeast England. Both were later introduced to the wild.

"It's extraordinary news, a very significant world-first for the conservation of this species which is in serious danger of becoming extinct," Delphine Delord, assistant director of Beauval zoo, told AFP.

The Aspinall Foundation, which runs the Port Lympne Safari Park, has reported the infant gorilla to be in good health.

It released a video on Twitter of a mother with a baby clinging to her front, adding that it was "delighted to announce the first ever birth to re-wilded, captive-born gorillas."

"Nature is cruel, anything can happen," Delord from Beauval said. "The baby is fragile but for the moment Mayombe is holding her newborn in the perfect position and is feeding well.

"Djongo is approaching them very gently. We even saw him touch the baby on the camera traps that turn on when an animal passes.

"Male gorillas have a role to play in the development of their offspring. We're looking at the creation of a new troop here which will be boosted by the reintroduction of another female who was born in England," Delord said.

Almost 80 percent of Gabon is covered by forests, and primate habitation and protection programmes have been set up in its parks in recent years to boost tourism.

The country, which borders the Republic of Congo and Cameroon, stopped allowing tourists to see its great apes last year fearing that humans could give the novel coronavirus to the animals.

The Aspinall Foundation, set up by conservationist John Aspinall in the 1970s, says it has released eight black rhino, 135 primates, 11 European bison, and over 70 western lowland gorillas back to the wild.

The foundation says on its website that the number of western lowland gorillas, which are found in Gabon, has declined by 60 percent in the past 20-25 years.