Keepers and staff at Howletts Wild Animal Park, one of the County’s most popular visitor attractions, are celebrating the birth of a critically endangered baby western lowland gorilla.
Born on 25th April 2016 to parents Sanki and Djanghou, the little infant is being closely protected by mother, Sanki although keepers have now been able to identify that the newborn is a female.
Lorna Wanless, Head of Gorilla Section said: ‘We are absolutely delighted to welcome the latest addition to our gorilla family here at Howletts. Sanki is an experienced mother and her baby will remain close to her for many months. We can confirm the baby is a female and she has already been seen holding on to her mother’s forearm while Sanki is moving around the enclosure. I am sure it will not be long before she is also travelling around on Sanki's back clinging tightly to her mother’s hair. The baby will be dependent on her mother for three or four years.'
Both Howletts and sister park Port Lympne Reserve, have impressive breeding records with western lowland gorillas. This latest adorable arrival will cement the parks’ reputation as world leaders in breeding these species, bringing the total number of successful births across both parks to a staggering 137.
Neil Spooner, Animal Director added: ‘Western lowland gorillas are one of the species that we are best known for and we are justly proud of our breeding programme, which is the best in the world. As well as caring for gorillas at our parks we also work closely with The Aspinall Foundation to protect them in the wild, and where possible, reintroduce gorillas born at the parks back into their natural environment.’
Western lowland gorillas are critically endangered in the wild. Estimates range from 50,000 to 150,000 individuals remaining; however, the true figure is very difficult to gauge. It is estimated that if the number of western lowland gorilla continues to decline at the present rate the species may be extinct by 2020.