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There's a new baby in the zoo neighborhood!

A new, endangered Western Lowland gorilla is born at Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo

Chicago---Lincoln Park Zoo is thrilled to announce the birth of a healthy new baby Western Lowland gorilla. It'a baby girl and she is the first of this critically endangered species to be born at the zoo since 2005.

The baby doesn't have a name yet but from all appearances looks to be doing well, clinging to her mother Bana, a 16-year old first time mom. The proud dad, Kwan, 22-years old, has been seen staying close to mother and baby like the protective father he is.

Curator of Primates, Maureen Leahy: "She is showing all of the signs of a doting new mom and is appropriately tender toward and watchful over her infant."

The newborn made her entrance into the world on November 16 and is the newest edition into a group of seven. The other gorillas have been showing "respectful curiosity" about the new arrival, according to the Primate Curator.

Bana arrived at Lincoln Park Zoo in 2010 from Chicago's Brookfield Zoo, having been born there in 1995. She is a low-ranking female in the group but has what keepers call a "sisterhood" with her fellow female troop members. She is particularly bonded with a similar aged adult female named Rollie. Rollie has been within arm's length of Bana and the new infant since birth, and Bana has even allowed Rollie to gently touch the baby.

Said curator Leahy, "The baby is acting exactly how we would hope a newborn gorilla would. It is gripping tightly to Bana and making great eye contact with her during this crucial bonding time."

Keepers are watching closely to make sure Bana and her baby continue to do well, as the first few weeks are critical to the survival of newborn gorillas. They are able to check the health status of both individuals due to the well-established operant conditioning (one of the fundamental aspects of behavioral psychology) program at the zoo.

Prior to giving birth, all first-time gorilla moms at the zoo are given special "material training," which includes getting the mother-to-be comfortable with presenting different body parts which allow for staff to get a better view of nursing. This allows non-invasive health checks for her and her baby. This operant conditioning allows keepers to offer medical care for both gorillas in case of any unforseen problems, without having to separate mother and infant. All operant conditioning programs are voluntary for animals; similar training can be observed daily at Regenstein Center for African Apes at 1:30 p.m.

Western lowland gorillas are critically endangered in their native central Africa due to habitat loss and poaching. The zoo works with other accredited zoos in maintaining an SSP, or Species Survival Plan for the great apes. The new baby joins approximately 340 other gorillas in the SSP.

This gorilla birth is number 49 since 1970 at Lincoln Park Zoo. Western lowland gorillas have been an important part of the zoo since 1935 when a young male named Bushman arrived in Chicago. Though onky 2 1/2 when he left his home in Cameroon, Bushman became a 500 pound sensation, drawing visitors to Lincoln Park Zoo from all over the world.

The zoo's great apes program has been heralded as one of the best in the world, The state-of-the-art Regenstein Center for African Apes is internationally-recognized for its enriching exhibit design, while scientists at the zoo's Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservationof Apes lead their field with research in behavioral studies and the monitoring of disease.

Zoo guests and visitors can observe Bana and her baby at Regenstein Center for African Apes at the zoo starting today from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

For more information please visit www.lpzoo.org or call (312) 742-2000

Author's Note: I must apologize for only picturing the mother gorilla and not the baby. Examiner has certain photo display restrictions refusing some that are too small and shrinking the larger photos whereby cutting off some of the image. If you visit the zoo's website you can enjoy many photos there. www.lpzoo.org Once again, my apologies.

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