The Riverbanks Zoo and Garden announced Monday that one of its gorillas is expecting a baby.
Kazi – a 12-year-old Western lowland gorilla – is believed to be about four or five months pregnant and has entered her second trimester, according to a news release from the zoo. The gestation period for gorillas is about 37 weeks.
“Kazi is in good health, and her pregnancy is progressing normally,” said John Davis, curator of mammals at the zoo. “First-time gorilla mothers are, however, more likely to experience challenges related to birth and child-rearing, so we are cautiously optimistic moving forward.”
She is beginning to show a “baby bump,” Davis said during a news conference.
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Baby gorillas born to first-time mothers have an 80 percent survival rate. If Kazi’s baby makes it, it will be the first infant gorilla raised at the Riverbanks Zoo.
A name has not been selected for the infant gorilla. “Naming all of the animals is always a special event, and with a gorilla, that is even more special,” Davis said.
Riverbanks added Western lowland gorillas – which are considered critically endangered – in the spring of 2015.
The zoo has five of the gorillas, two males and three females. Four are members of a troop that interact with each other, including Conzoo, 22, the father. The others are Macy, 12 and Acacia, 23, both females.
A fifth gorilla, 28-year-old Patrick, does not physically interact with the other four, although he can see and hear them. Patrick, who came to Riverbanks in 2013, has always been isolated from other gorillas.
The other four gorillas all came to Riverbanks from separate zoos in 2015.
The other three members of Kazi’s troop “know she is going through something,” Davis said. Mom and dad “are staying close together most of the time.”
A pregnant gorilla in a troop “always gets the focus and the attention.” The two female gorillas are expected to playing the roles of aunts.
Davis said the gorillas have been trained to undergo ultrasound testing. “They are taught to put their bellies up to the cage.”
Kazi will have an ultra-sound every week. She also will be given prenatal vitamins.
When it comes time for Kazi to deliver, the zoo prefers that the infant be born in the holding area. But she can do whatever she wants, Davis said. “Obviously, it will be up to her.”