KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Zookeepers at the Knoxville Zoo are on round-the-clock baby watch.
Hope, a Western lowland gorilla, is expecting. The zoo shared an ultrasound of the baby gorilla showing the baby’s heartbeat and a faint outline of two little hands curled on its chest.
The zoo says their have been no complications. “So far nothing to indicate it isn’t a healthy, normal pregnancy. Whew!,” said zookeepers with the Knoxville Zoo.
Female gorillas give birth to one infant after a pregnancy of nearly nine months. “Unlike their powerful parents, newborns are tiny – weighing just four pounds, and able only to cling to their mothers’ fur,” according to the Knoxville Zoo.
Hope, a 29-year-old female, came to Knoxville from Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Machi, a 36-year-old female from Zoo Atlanta and Wanto, a 35-year-old male, from the Kansas City Zoo were also moved to the zoo.
The moves of the three endangered gorillas to the zoo were made on the recommendation of the Endangered Species Survival Plan, which manages breeding of gorillas at zoos accredited byt the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
In the wild, forest loss has destroyed the habitat of the Western lowland gorilla and brought in hunting for commercial bush meat, according to the Knoxville Zoo. Illegal exotic pet trade and infectious diseases from humans have also contributed to the shrinking population of the lowland gorillas.