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It’s a girl! But don’t expect her to be swaddled in pink.

The gender of the baby gorilla born at the ABQ BioPark Zoo on Aug. 10 is now known, and so is her name – Mashika – which in the African Swahili language means “born during the rainy season.”

It’s a fitting name, said zoo officials, given that her birth came during New Mexico’s monsoon season.

The birth represents the first time in nearly 20 years a baby western lowland gorilla has been born at the zoo. Because the mother, Samantha, kept the baby pretty close, its gender was not immediately known.

Sleepy baby Mashika rests in the arms of her mother, Samantha, at the BioPark Zoo on Wednesday. In the African Swahili language, Mashika means “born during the rainy season.” (Chancey Bush, Albuquerque Journal)





Samantha, 15, was born at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas, and came to the BioPark Zoo in April 2019. Father, Kojo, 20, was born at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C., and came to the BioPark in April 2021. The pairing of the gorillas was part of a species survival plan recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

The birth brings the number of western lowland gorillas at the zoo to eight – four males and four females.

Western lowland gorillas are native to a number of countries in central, western and equatorial Africa. They are classified as critically endangered in the wild, according to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International and the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Their average lifespan is 30 to 40 years in the wild and into their 50s under human care.