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Happiness to heartbreak: Endangered baby gorilla dies at New Orleans zoo

Necropsy results will be available in a few weeks.

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The baby seemed to be doing very well at first, and zookeepers were keeping their distance to avoid disturbing the new family – they were still unaware of the baby’s gender and they were yet to name the newborn. By Wednesday evening, the baby appeared lethargic and weak. It was taken to the zoo’s animal hospital, but veterinarians couldn’t save it, the statement said.

“We are heartbroken over the loss,” said Ron Forman, Audubon Nature Institute president and CEO. “This has been a work in progress for many years, from the introduction of the new troop members to the announcement of the birth.”

Twenty-four-year-old Praline, also female, is the only other gorilla born at the zoo. Tumani, her father Okpara and Alafia, a third female, were brought in from other zoos.

The baby was the seventh western lowland gorilla born this year at the zoo, spokesman Rob Vernon.

Gorillas in zoos average nearly 10 years old when they first give birth, but mothers as young as 5 and as old as 41 have been recorded.

The species native to central Africa was declared critically endangered in 2007 because of habitat loss, as well as deaths caused by the Ebola virus and hunters who killed the gorillas for their meat.

Although there were an estimated 362,000 in the wild in 2016, their numbers are falling about 2.7 per cent a year, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

AP

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