OKLAHOMA CITY -  The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden welcomes a new member to the family. A female Western lowland gorilla was born in the early hours of Saturday, August 16, inside a Great EscApe day room to mother Ndjole and father Togo.

The baby gorilla weighed a little more than four pounds at birth, and she appears healthy and strong. However, zoo officials said the mother has not demonstrated any signs of maternal care toward her baby since giving birth, and the Zoo’s veterinarian team and gorilla keepers have made the decision to hand rear the infant.

“Ndjole was given several opportunities to bond with her baby within the first 24 hours and didn’t show any interest in her, putting the newborn’s life at risk,” said OKC Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Jennifer D’Agostino.

According to officials, caregivers will provide around-the-clock care for the infant gorilla in an off-exhibit area in Great EscApe to keep the baby in close proximity to other gorillas. It is the Zoo’s goal to explore every option to reunite the infant with other gorillas as soon as possible. 

The Zoo’s veterinarian team and gorilla keepers will work with the Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP) through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to determine when the baby will be returned to a gorilla group or placed with a surrogate mother.

This is the second baby born to Ndjole, an 18-year-old Western lowland gorilla, who came to the Zoo in 2010 from the San Diego Zoo. Her first baby, a male, is a member of the Zoo’s bachelor gorilla troop in Great EscApe.

First-time father Togo, a 25-year-old silverback Western lowland gorilla, arrived at the Zoo in 2012 from the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory as part of a breeding recommendation made by the Gorilla SSP. Togo’s troop includes females Emily, Mikella and Ndjole.