The western lowland gorilla baby, born to mother Bana at Lincoln Park Zoo on Nov. 16 and reported on this website last week, has unexpectedly died. Zoo officials do not know the cause of death. The baby was found this morning, dead but still being carried by her mother.
“This is an extremely sad day for the Lincoln Park Zoo family,” said Megan Ross, vice president of Animal Care. “We have been watching the mother and infant very closely since the birth and felt cautiously optimistic that the baby was healthy and being cared for appropriately. We are all surprised and very saddened by this tragic turn of events.”
Bana was allowed to keep the baby for several hours in order to make peace with what happened. Gorillas’ periods of mourning have been well documented and are often compared to those of humans.
Bana, a first time mother, carried the baby full-term, and the infant appeared to be fully-developed. A full necropsy (animal autopsy) will be performed by Lincoln Park Zoo’s veterinarians and pathologists to determine the cause of death.
“The sad reality is that infant mortality is not altogether uncommon in wild animals, but nonetheless we are absolutely devastated to lose this important newborn which is a critically endangered species,” said Ross.
The Regenstein Center for African Apes will remain closed to the public today (Friday) in order to give the gorillas, and animal care staff, time to mourn and adjust to the loss.