The Bronx Zoo in New York welcomed two new members to its gorilla family, the largest group of these primates in North America. The baby gorillas are the first gorillas born at the zoo since 2006 – and they’re adorable to boot.
The first of this year’s baby gorillas was born on March 10 to 33-year-old gorilla Julia; the second was born April 17 to 19-year-old Tuti. Live Science reports that the Bronx Zoo newborns had the same father, a 31-year-old gorilla named Ernie.
The baby gorillas, whose genders are unknown, were part of a breeding program aimed at increasing the genetic viability of zoo animals.
Since the Bronx Zoo marked its first successful breeding of a gorilla in 1972, 50 gorillas have been born there. The exhibit is currently home to 20 western lowland gorillas.
Newborn gorillas spend the first four months of their lives in their mothers’ arms. While they begin to eat solid food around six months of age, baby gorillas will continue to nurse from their mothers until about the age of three or four, according to a statement from the Wildlife Conservation Society.
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In the wild, western lowland gorillas live in families of about four to eight members. They make their homes in the dense forests of Central and West Africa. Adult gorillas can reach 35 years of age and weight between 150 and 400 pounds. They are generally smaller than their other mountain gorilla cousins but are far more common.
Even so, western lowland gorillas are classified an endangered species. National Geographic reports that these primates’ populations are threatened by forest loss and hunters who kill them for bushmeat. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, western lowland gorillas have seen their population in the wild decline by 80 percent over the past few decades.