Taronga Zoo's Western Lowland Gorilla group welcomed a brand new addition to their family, a tiny male infant which was born to proud mother, 'Mouila'.
Keepers at Taronga Zoo welcomed the gorgeous black bundle into the world in August, aptly naming him 'Mahali', which means 'an event' in Swahili. Like all newborns, Mahale is delighting visitors as he clings tightly to his mothers chest. Mahale is now taking a definite interest in his surroundings, even taking food from his mother's grasp.
The birth brings Taronga Zoo's gorilla population to a total of nine, and keeper Rachel Woodward, said: "Now is the perfect time to come and enjoy the playful antics in the Gorilla group. We have two active five year olds - 'Mbeli' and 'Fataki', an inquisitive three year old, 'Kimya' whilst 'Fuzu' who is one, is just taking his first tentative steps away from Mum, 'Frala'. With the addition of our new born, Mahali there is so much going on."
"Just like human children, with so many youngsters in the group there is always a lot of activity and playfulness, and sometimes a little 'dummy spit' however our very impressive and majestic Silverback, 'Kibabu' keeps their behaviour in check," said Rachel. "He is a very fair and respected leader."
Taking care of the Gorillas is a rewarding job for keepers at the Zoo but in the wild, jungle clearing, disease and poaching have seen the dramatic decline in Western Lowland Gorilla populations. Ebola Virus alone has reduced wild Western Lowland Gorilla numbers by 90% in some areas. Zoo-based breeding groups like Taronga's are increasingly vital following the recent announcement by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) at the International Primatological Society Conference in Edinburgh in August that almost half of the world's 634 primate species face extinction.
Mahali will play an important role in the worldwide conservation of this critically endangered species, but there are simple things such as choosing sustainable timber for our building and furniture needs which will help support gorillas and other endangered species.
With the warmer weather upon us, Mahale is not the only new Zoo arrival. Taronga has also welcomed an array of 'spring babies' including a new baby Binturong or Asian Bear-cat 'Sari' and an adorable Quokka 'Poppy Lou' which is being hand raised by one of the Zoo's dedicated keepers, Sam Elton.
The boom has also reached the Taronga Wildlife Hospital which treats and rehabilitates injured and orphaned animals. The new patients include 'Lily' a 240 day old Eastern-grey Kangaroo who was found beside a highway near Goulbourn, NSW after her mother was killed by a car. It is hoped that once Lily is weaned she will live at the Zoo's Education Centre and become an important ambassador for her species helping to educate people about the importance of being vigilant on our roads and making sure domestic pets are always on a leash or kept in doors after dusk when most of our unique wildlife are out and about.