Subject: Gorilla Birth at Seattle

(from gledhill@halcyon.com [ Laurence G. Gledhill ])

        Woodland Park Zoo is proud to announce the birth of Jumoke
(Joo-MOH-keh) and Congo's first western lowland gorilla baby. The five-and-a
half-pound female was born Monday, February 12, at 11:23 pm PST. Average
gorilla infants weigh four pounds. Jumoke and Congo's infant marks the
seventh successful gorilla birth at Woodland Park Zoo.
        
        Gorilla keeper's suspected Jomoke's "water broke" Sunday morning. At
7:00 pm yesterday, because her labor was not progressing, animal health
staff called in a team of physicians for consultation. They decided to
immobilize her in order to assess the baby's position and vitals by an
ultrasound. After discovering the baby was alive and turned the wrong way
and the placenta was deteriorating, they manually turned the baby around and
induced labor. With the medical team's assistance, Jumoke delivered the baby
vaginally at 11:23 pm PST. The physicians, all volunteers for the zoo,
consisted of a gynecologist, anesthesiologist and neonatologist from Swedish
Hospital, coordinated by Dr. Robin Cole, M.D. A radiologist, Dr. Robert
Liddell, M.D., monitored the baby's health by ultrasound during the delivery. 

        "We've fully examined the infant and she appears to be in excellent
health," said zoo associate veterinarian Dr. Darin Collins. Zoo staff will
meet today to plan the proposed introduction of Jumoke with her baby. Zoo
staff are prepared to care for the baby should Jumoke not show signs of good
maternal care. Jumoke's condition is considered excellent at this time. She
is receiving medications to help control any infection or pain as a result
of the delivery.

        The new birth represents the first offspring between 10-year-old
Jumoke and 36-year-old Congo, and the first offspring for each gorilla. This
successful birth is significant because Congo was wild-caught and,
therefore, is a "founder animal". As a founder animal, Congo has no other
known representatives in the captive gorilla population. This new offspring
will further enhance the gene pool of captive gorillas by the infusion of
Congo's wild-caught genes. Since the Endangered Species Act of 1973,
gorillas are no longer wild-caught for captive population.

        Just this past November, zoo staff were celebrating the birth of
Congo and his other mat, Amanda's would-be first baby. The celebration
turned to devastation when the baby died five days later from a combination
of pre-and post-birth complications. This unexpected death prompted zoo
animal management staff to re-assess their post-natal care procedures and
make modifications. Jumoke and her newborn will be under 24-hour
surveillance during the first week. About two weeks before Jumoke gave
birth, gorilla keepers and animal health staff rotated shifts and spent
entire nights in the gorilla holding area in order to get Jumoke comfortable
with having people monitor her around the clock.

        While the death of Congo's first baby represented a setback for the
Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP), the birth of this baby helps to offset
the loss. The SSP manages the captive population of this endangered species
through cooperative breeding programs among North American zoos aimed at
managing and expanding the captive populations of endangered species. There
are currently 322 captive western lowland gorillas in North America and a
total of 600 worldwide, and 50,000 to 60,000 in the wild.

        Congo was born in Camroon around 1959. On breeding loan from the
Honolulu Zoo, Congo came to Woodland Park from Phoenix Zoo in 1992. His
transfer to Woodland Park provided his first-ever experience with a grassy,
naturalistic habitat. Congo had also never successfully mated with his two
previous mates, Fifi and Hazel, at Honolulu and Phoenix, respectively.

        Jumoke, a former member of Woodland Park's original gorilla troop,
was born to parents Pete and Binti. In 1993 Jumoke was transferred to
Congo's exhibit in hopes that they would be compatible mates and form a
second troop. Amanda joined Congo and Jumoke's exhibit last February as a
second mate for Congo. Binti, Jumoke's mother, is now on breeding loan at
the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans and recently gave birth to her second baby.

        Woodland Park's original troop consists of: Pete, 27-year-old male;
Nina, 27-year-old female; Zuri, 11-year-old male; and Alafia, 5-year-old
female. 
 
Laurence Gledhill
Woodland Park Zoo