Baby Gorilla at Ohio Zoo Adopted by Elder Female After Mom's Lack of Care

A baby gorilla has been born at a zoo in Ohio and when its mother did not provide it with enough care, another gorilla instinctively took over.

The baby male western lowland gorilla, who has not yet been named, was born on the morning of October 26 and announced by the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo on Thursday.

The zoo noted that when the baby gorilla's mother, a 23-year-old individual named Nneka, did not show appropriate maternal care, another female gorilla called Fredrika stepped in.

Fredrika, or "Freddy" as she is also known, is the oldest female in the group and has raised four baby gorillas in the past.

Since the baby gorilla's birth, Fredrika has been taking the newborn to be bottle-fed by zoo staff.

The western lowland gorilla is the most widespread of all gorilla subspecies, but they're still classed as critically endangered with an unknown population size, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

It's thought that their numbers have fallen by over 60 percent over the past 20 years or so due to human poaching and also due to disease like the deadly Ebola virus.

They may be found in parts of Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, and the Republic of Congo.

In a press release, Brian M. Zimmerman, CEO of Cleveland Metroparks, said the company was "thrilled" to announce the baby gorilla's birth, which is the first in the zoo's history.

At some point in the coming weeks the zoo is due to announce a public naming ceremony for the young gorilla.

Gorillas are typically pregnant for around 8.5 months before they give birth to their babies, which tend to weight about four pounds at birth—less than the average human baby, according to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.

After birth, baby gorillas will usually stay in close physical contact with their mothers for the first six months of their lives. It's not until around eight months that the babies begin walking and exploring for the first time. The nursing period may last for around three years.

It's also known that other females in gorilla groups may try to help out with raising a new baby, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund adds. These females, especially young siblings of the infant, may participate in the newborn's life by carrying it or playing with it.

The birth of the new gorilla baby is not the first time a zoo has announced a new baby animal recently. In October, Chester Zoo in the U.K. shared footage of a baby Moellendorff's Rat Snake hatching from its egg—the first to be born at the zoo.

Baby gorilla
A baby gorilla is pictured in the arms of an adult gorilla at Kahuzi-Biega National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo in September 2019. Baby gorillas spend the first several months of their lives close to their mothers. Alexis Huguet/AFP / Getty