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Dropping Soon: D.C. Zoo Announces Baby Gorilla On the Way

Amid the traffic and hubbub of Washington D.C., two western lowland gorillas have found love—and are now expecting. Like many social-media maternity announcements these days, this one came with ultrasound footage.

Earlier this week, Washington D.C.-based Smithsonian National Zoo shared a video showing the baby gorilla’s tiny fingers and toes as it grows in mom Calaya’s belly. So far, the baby seems healthy, and the zoo is looking forward to welcoming it into the world early this summer.

The parents, Calaya and Baraka, are both western lowland gorillas, a critically endangered species native to western Africa. Over the last two decades, wild gorilla populations have plummeted, dropping by more than 60% in some places. Like many other rainforest creatures, gorillas suffer from habitat loss and illegal poaching, but one of their biggest threats has been the ebola virus. According to the World Wildlife Fund, the ebola epidemic has been so severe that it could take more than 75 years for wild gorilla populations to fully recover.

Fortunately, there are a number of teams on the ground in Western Africa now working to grow conservation efforts in the region. Ecotourism is a growing industry, and more and more organizations are getting on board with funding conservation efforts and protecting swaths of rainforest from deforestation.

The Smithsonian National Zoo’s conservation program is one of many global efforts to study and restore wild gorilla populations. (The zoo also works to breed giant pandas and a variety of other vulnerable and threatened species.) So far, the team has seen a decent success rate; Calaya and Baraka gave birth to one other baby gorilla in 2018. The new offspring will be their second child.

This won’t be the first new gorilla of 2023, either. Just last month, the Pittsburgh Zoo welcomed their own baby, a tiny female munchkin who has yet to be named. The zoo is currently taking recommendations. Have the perfect name in mind? Head to the zoo’s website and make a small donation to submit your idea.

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