A Mother's Day Celebration: Baby Gorilla Born At Lincoln Park Zoo

This marks the 53rd critically-endangered western lowland gorilla birth at the zoo.

Mike Krauser
May 14, 2019 - 12:04 pm
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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- It was a special Mother's Day at Lincoln Park Zoo. 

An endangered western lowland gorilla gave birth Mother's Day (Sunday, May 12) at the Regenstein Center for African Apes at Lincoln Park Zoo. The birth marks the 53rd gorilla birth for the zoo. 

"I came in around 6:30 a.m. on Mother's Day and Rollie, the mother, had her infant gorilla close on her chest. Later looking at video footage she had it at 2 a.m. on Mother's Day," said Jill Moyse, Curator of Primates, Lincoln Park Zoo. "Even though this is not my first gorilla, I was really shocked still and really excited and called my general curator right away and said, ‘we have a new gorilla baby.’”

The male infant is still unnamed. He weighs about four to five pounds. Moyse said the zoo staff has been doing a lot of maternal training with 22-year-old Rollie ahead of the birth, and that Rollie started nursing the infant later in the day Sunday. 

“Gestation for gorillas is around 250 days so we put in a lot of training to get mom ready for that birth," she said.  

This is the second second offspring for Rollie, who gave birth to female Nayembi in 2012. The father, Kwan, 30, is the silverback of the family group and continues to watch over the two. 

Lincoln Park Zoo western lowland gorilla Rollie received a very special Mother’s Day gift: a male infant born on May 12 at Regenstein Center for African Apes.
Christopher Bijalba / Lincoln Park Zoo

The gorilla baby joins a troop of seven gorillas, including two adult females Bana and Bahati, and three juvenile females Bella, Nayembi, and Patty.

“It’s really amazing to see this family group grow and adapt,” Moyse said. “Lincoln Park Zoo’s last gorilla birth was in 2015 when the troop welcomed newborn Bella. It’s an exciting time to visit Regenstein Center for African Apes where you can see different life stages of the gorillas from newborn infant to full-grown silverback.”

WBBM Newsradio's Mike Krauser received a special sneak peek of the baby gorilla and its mother on Tuesday. He said it was almost as if the mother, Rollie, wanted to be photographed, as she sat with her baby behind the viewing window.

The Regenstein Center for African Apes exhibit has been closed to give the mother and baby quiet time. Lincoln Park Zoo members can receive a sneak peek of the baby May 15-17 from 10 a.m. to noon. The exhibit is expected to open back up to the public and continue regular hours beginning Saturday, May 18.

Check out the photos below:

Lincoln Park Zoo western lowland gorilla Rollie received a very special Mother’s Day gift: a male infant born on May 12 at Regenstein Center for African Apes.
Christopher Bijalba / Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo western lowland gorilla Rollie received a very special Mother’s Day gift: a male infant born on May 12 at Regenstein Center for African Apes.
Christopher Bijalba / Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo western lowland gorilla Rollie received a very special Mother’s Day gift: a male infant born on May 12 at Regenstein Center for African Apes.
Christopher Bijalba / Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo western lowland gorilla Rollie received a very special Mother’s Day gift: a male infant born on May 12 at Regenstein Center for African Apes.
Christopher Bijalba / Lincoln Park Zoo