Prague Zoo proudly announced a new arrival on Wednesday morning. A baby gorilla was born shortly after midnight, only the second gorilla ever born in captivity in the Czech Republic. Both mother and baby are healthy and Zoo staff have breathed a sigh of relief: only six weeks ago another female gave birth to a stillborn child and nearly died herself during labour.
The gorillas in the Prague pavilion are real stars. Shortly after the first baby was born over two years ago, cameras were installed in the house which monitor the life inside for twenty-four hours a day in a project put together by Czech Radio and Czech TV. This fact helped the Zoo staff find out very soon last night that something was about to happen. Director Petr Fejk.
"After midnight we had a phone call from one of the people who watch the 24-hour live internet broadcast who said the group was unusually restless. Our expert team arrived at the pavilion instantly and we followed the events. It was obvious Kijivu was in labour. It was very quick and smooth, it was all over in about 15 seconds. The mother cleaned the baby, bit off the umbilical cord, ate the placenta and at about 5 a.m. she fed the baby for the first time. The whole group looked on and was absolutely calm. The mother and the baby appear healthy. It looks like we have another healthy baby gorilla here at Prague Zoo."
During the birth, Kijivu's first child, two-and-a-half-year old Moja, was sitting astride the back of her aunt, Kamba, who has now recovered from the childbirth which ended in tragedy last month. She is one of the last gorillas in a European zoo born in the wild. At the age of 35 she is the oldest in the group but her keepers have not given up hope that she will soon get pregnant again. As keeper Marek Zdansky, says the male in the group, Richard, has well proved his fertility.
"First of all, we have to thank Richard who is a powerful male. He has conceived three babies, unfortunately one was stillborn. And of course, we need to thank the other females and the whole group. Last but not least, I would like to thank our keepers who look after the animals."
It now remains to choose a name for the little gorilla. But it will take a few months to determine the sex of the baby as the keepers don't come into direct contact with the animals. In a few months time, a new female will be brought to the group from another Czech zoo. The staff hope that both she and Kamba get pregnant soon.