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The new baby gorilla was born Friday morniing. (Photo: Woodland Park Zoo)

It's a girl! Woodland Park Zoo welcomes new baby gorilla

SEATTLE - Woodland Park Zoo has welcomed a new baby gorilla into the world.

After an eight to nine month pregnancy, 24-year-old Nadiri gave birth at 10:25 a.m. on Friday. The newborn female is the second baby for Nadiri, and the first between her and dad, 21-year-old Kwame.

Shortly after birth, zoo gorilla and veterinary staff had to step in and place the baby under round-the-clock care in the gorilla building because Nadiri had not picked up her baby to nurse or keep her warm enough the first day.

Zoo staff are nourishing the baby by bottle feeding her human infant formula, keeping her warm and providing her with short visits with her mother - and so far the baby is doing well.

"We will continue to provide hands-on care while keeping the baby in close proximity to Nadiri 24/7 and attempting to reintroduce her to mom,” says Martin Ramirez, mammal curator at Woodland Park Zoo.

"We will continue to introduce Nadiri to her baby. She is staying close and has picked up her baby for short periods over the weekend, but has not shown any interest in nursing her. By doing short introduction sessions frequently throughout each day, we hope her maternal instinct will soon kick in," he added.

In 2015, Nadiri gave birth to her first offspring, Yola, who was sired by Vip.

Because Nadiri was partially human-raised as an infant and had no experience as a mom, she did not know what to do when she gave birth the first time. Therefore, Yola spent the first several months of her life under round-the-clock care by gorilla keepers and veterinary staff while having daily interactions with her mom. Nadiri’s maternal instincts eventually engaged and Yola was reunited with her mom and the other members of her family.

Zoo staffers were optimistic that Nadiri would pick her new second baby and show maternal care this time, but she never picked up her newborn on the first day. Eventually it became necessary for the zoo's animal health team to intervene for the baby's well-being.

“The baby’s vital signs are good and she’s healthy and physically normal,” says Dr. Darin Collins, director of animal health at Woodland Park Zoo. “The newborn weighs 4.9 pounds. The average weight for a gorilla at birth is 4 pounds, so she’s within the norm.”

Zoo stafgers are continuing to encourage maternal behaviors in Nadiri. While she has held her baby since the first day, she has not yet nursed her.

The new mom and her group will remain in the off-view dens so mom can remain with her family, including daughter Yola. There may be days when other members of the group rotate in the public outdoor habitat.

The newborn is the 15th gorilla born at Woodland Park Zoo and the second for father Kwame who also sired the zoo's last baby, Kitoko with 13-year-old female Uzumma last March. He has proven himself to be a gentle, playful and patient dad to the nearly 1-year-old boy.

The new baby girl is a half-sister for both little Kitoko and 5-year-old Yola.