Samantha, a 15-year-old western lowland gorilla, cuddles her baby, born at the ABQ BioPark Zoo on Wednesday. (Chancey Bush/Albuquerque Journal)




For the first time in nearly 20 years, a baby western lowland gorilla has been born at the ABQ BioPark Zoo.

The gorilla was born Wednesday to mother, Samantha, and father, Kojo.

“Because the mother is keeping the baby pretty close, we don’t yet know its gender,” said Bob Lee, the zoo’s associate director.

Samantha, 15, was born at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas, and came to the BioPark in April 2019. Kojo, 20, was born at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C., and came to the BioPark in April 2021, Lee said.

The pairing of the gorillas was part of a species survival plan recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, he added.

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.

Western lowland gorillas are mostly herbivores. A mature male can stand up to 6 feet tall and weigh on average 300 pounds, though larger ones can tip the scale at 500 pounds. A mature female can stand 4½ feet tall or more and weigh up to 275 pounds.

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