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NC Zoo Expecting Baby Boom

Posted on 05/01/12

ASHEBORO, NC - The North Carolina Zoo is expecting several significant births later this year. The zoo has not one, but two pregnant gorillas, as well as a pregnant giraffe.

Gorillas "Jamani" and "Olympia" are expected to give birth in August and November, respectively. The father is "Nkosi," a 19-year-old male who arrived at the N.C. Zoo from the Columbus Zoo in March 2008. One of the park's female giraffes, "Jamili," is also on the road to motherhood and may deliver in late July.

Jamani, age 12, was acquired from the San Diego Zoo in January 2010. This is her second pregnancy. She became pregnant in late 2010, but unfortunately lost the infant to a stillbirth in June of last year. According to the animal staff, it is not uncommon for first-time gorilla mothers to lose the baby.

At age 15, this is Olympia's first pregnancy. She arrived in Asheboro in March 2009 from the Atlanta Zoo. Also expecting for the first time is Jamili, a four-year-old giraffe that was transferred from the Colorado Springs Zoo in March 2009. The father is "Jack," age four, who also arrived in Asheboro in March 2009 from the Dickerson Park Zoo.

If successful, the gorilla births would be only the second and third gorillas born at the N.C. Zoo. The sexes of the infants have not been determined. The zoo's first baby gorilla, Kwanza, was born in March 1989. He was transferred in1998 to Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo as part of the Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP) of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. Both of the current gorilla pregnancies were also recommended by the SSP.
The zoo is very experienced in giraffe pregnancies, having 10 successful births over the years.

"We're cautiously optimistic that these pregnancies will go to term without problems," said Zoo Chief Veterinarian Dr. Mike Loomis. "They're being monitored by ultrasound frequently."

The gorilla births would be a major accomplishment, not only for the N.C. Zoo, but also for the AZA's gorilla conservation effort. Currently there are only about 350 gorillas in 52 AZA-accredited zoos with just four successful births out of eight pregnancies recorded during 2011 and early 2012.

The zoo is an agency of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Dee Freeman, Secretary; Beverly Eaves Perdue, Governor.

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