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Lisa Ridley
Mbeli with new baby Mjukuu

Taronga Zoo Director and Chief Executive, Cameron Kerr, today announced the birth of a tiny male Western Lowland Gorilla at Taronga Zoo. 

The baby boy born to Mbeli, was born on Tuesday and heralds the beginning of a second generation of Western Lowland Gorillas in the Zoo’s successful conservation breeding program.

The young infant has been named Mjukuu, which means ‘grandchild’ or ‘second generation’ in Swahili.

 NSW Environment Minister, Rob Stokes, said: “This is a wonderful achievement for Taronga’s role in the international breeding program. It certainly reflects the Zoo’s dedication and commitment to conservation. This birth is a triumph and testament to the hard work of the keepers.”

This is also the first baby sired by Taronga’s new Silverback, Kibali, who arrived at the Zoo in 2013 from France after a global search by keepers and curators to follow retiring Silverback, Kibabu.

 Kibali was chosen with the assistance of the European Species management program which identified him as genetically and behaviourally ideal.  

The mother, Mbeli, was also born at Taronga in 2003.

Mr Kerr said: “This birth is vital for Taronga’s highly successful Western Lowland Gorilla breeding program. Taronga continues to tell many people about the plight of gorillas in the wild and what can be done just by visiting Taronga to see this infant.

“Taronga supports gorillas in the wild through the “They’re Calling You” Project to recycle mobile phones to help reduce illegal mining in gorilla habitat and to fund extra wildlife rangers to protect gorillas and other wildlife in Africa.”

 “Researchers have also warned that the current Ebola outbreak could have devastating effects on gorilla populations.  In 2003 and 2004 the virus reduced the number of gorillas in the Republic of Congo’s Pdzala Kokoua National Park from 380 to less than 40.”

 “This newborn is the latest contribution to Taronga’s story of hope for wildlife,” said Mr Kerr.

 Senior Primate keeper, Lou Grossfeldt, said: “Mbeli was born here so it’s great to see her back at Taronga and having babies herself where she grew up in a natural gorilla family group. She has seen first-hand how to care for an infant.”

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