Baby gorilla born at Lincoln Park Zoo

October 16, 2012 (CHICAGO)

"Right now the mother, Bana, is mothering appropriately. She's holding the infant tight at all times and by helping her infant by gently patting or rocking when it's fussing a little bit. And, really doing great," Maureen Leahy, curator of primates, Lincoln Park Zoo, said.

The Regenstein Center for African Apes is closed to the public since Bana, 17, gave birth to a four pound baby. That baby, whose gender has yet to be determined, is causing quite a stir among the other four female gorillas. He or she has been accepted into their troupe.

One of the young females, Susie, is very curious about the little guy or gal.

"You can see Susie is gently touching or even a little bit of a head slap," Leahy said. "That's appropriate. If the infant or mom really didn't like it you would hear it."

And that would probably be enough to get the baby's dad, Kwan, 23, out of his cave, as well.

"Kwan would definitely respond as well," Leahy said. "Sometimes Kwan is kicking back and putting his feet up but most, most often he's actually keeping peace in terms of the social group."

In the last 25 years in the wilds of central Africa the lowland gorilla has lost about 60-percent of its population. That's a number that can't be replaced ever because gorillas reproduce so slowly.

"Their gestation is about as long as humans so even the process of waiting for the baby to come takes a while -- eight to nine months. And thereafter that infant then stays with mom up until five to seven years old. So a female is having an offspring every six years on average," Leahy said.

That's why the birth of one little baby far away from Africa is so important. It adds new life to a population in decline.

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