Western lowland gorilla Bana holds her new baby born Oct. 11 at the Lincoln Park Zoo. The unnamed infant will be put on display starting Wednesday, Oct. 17, at the zoo's Regenstein Center for African Apes. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times
Updated: November 18, 2012 7:02AM
And baby makes 11.
The Regenstein Center for African Apes at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo re-opens Wednesday with a new addition to its 10-member western lowland gorilla troop — a 6-day-old baby gorilla, the 51st gorilla born at the zoo.
The baby, not named at this point and estimated to weigh around 4 pounds, was born Thursday to mom Bana, 17, and silverback father Kwan, 23. Its gender is still unknown.
Visitors should be able to get a close look at the new baby nursing, wiggling and clutching its mama’s fur with a tiny fist as Bana enjoys cradling her little one in a hay-strewn corner next to the viewing window.
Zoo staff knew through fecal sampling that Bana was pregnant and had pegged her due date to the first week in October. In preparation for the birth, they drafted a birth management plan that included maternal training with a Kong toy and getting Bana used to the idea of breastfeeding, said Maureen Leahy, the zoo’s curator of primates.
Six troop members, including Kwan, live in the same area with the baby. Another three bachelor gorillas live in a nearby enclosure, and a fourth male is working on integrating himself into the bachelor group.
The western lowland gorilla, native to central Africa, is a critically endangered species.
Bana’s “best friend” Rollie has taken a particular interest in the new one, at times placing her hand on the baby’s head, Leahy said.
The chimpanzees living across the hall from Kwan’s troop reacted Tuesday morning to the baby’s cries.
“All the chimps were glued to the window,” she said.
This is Bana’s second live birth. In November 2011, Bana gave birth to a baby girl, also sired by Kwan. But nine days after the baby was born, she died of a skull fracture and head trauma.
Zoo staff previously said there were no obvious signs of aggression from Bana. They allowed the mother to carry the dead newborn for several hours in order to “make peace with what happened,” zoo staff said at the time.