Ajabu - Western Lowland Gorilla

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The baby Western lowland gorilla that was born unexpectedly on 23rd April 2016 to parents Shinda and Richard is living proof that miracles (at least sometimes) do happen. Shinda had long been considered infertile and nobody believed that she would ever have a baby.

Shinda’s baby - Western Lowland Gorilla. Source: Archives Prague Zoo Shinda’s baby - Western Lowland Gorilla. Source: Archives Prague Zoo

Shinda, the female Western lowland gorilla, was born on 14th June 1991, in Apenheul Zoo in Dutch Apeldoorn. However, she lived in Australia for a long time. When she came to Prague Zoo in 2001, she had a hormonal contraceptive implant under her skin in order to prevent her from getting pregnant by her father, with whom she lived as a young female. In Prague she became a member of a group led by Richard, but although they mated regularly, they did not produce any young. Even though she had become pregnant several times, she had always miscarried. Shinda’s inability to have babies was attributed to the effects of the implant, which had lasted longer than expected. Use of the hormonal contraception had been necessary due to her irregular cycle, and therefore nobody in the zoo knew about her pregnancy.

It was a great surprise when on Saturday 23rd April Shinda’s waters broke and the female gorilla went into labour in the off-exhibit area of the pavilion. Other gorilla group members were with her all the time. The females stayed close by, showed their interest and took a sniff at her. Even the young watched the whole event carefully. Only Richard, the male, stayed out of the action and watched from a distance. Shortly after noon, after some 5 hours of labour, Shinda’s first baby came into the world.

Shinda started caring perfectly for her firstborn right away and behaved like an experienced mother from the very beginning. As everything had been going well, the keepers soon released the gorillas into the exhibit. The pavilion was closed on the first day, but on the second day the keepers opened it to the public in order not to disturb the regular daily regimen which the gorillas are used to – and which includes visitors.

You can therefore come and see the happy gorilla family in the zoo for yourself and watch the progress of the baby, which is still waiting to be named. One thing is already obvious. Shinda’s offspring is going to take after his mum in many respects. It has a good appetite just like her and it is going to be tough, too. Shinda is treating her young with love but, at the same time, does not spare it in any way: she started carrying the baby on her back as early as two days after the birth, which is a thing gorilla mothers usually do much later. Since the birth she has also given the baby to her half-sister Kijivu from time to time. Kijivu was the first in the group to be given this privilege.

The whole family has got used to the new-born without any problems and the baby makes everyone in the zoo happy. At only two weeks of age, it even got to the outdoor exhibit for the first time. You can see it there regularly when the weather is nice ever since. Welcome Shinda’s baby together with us.

Shinda’s baby


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