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Franklin Park Zoo announces gorilla, Kiki, is pregnant

 Kiki's ultrasound

Gorilla PregnantThe staff at Franklin Park Zoo is pleased to announce that Kiki, one of the Zoo’s four female western lowland gorillas, is pregnant with her fourth baby. The birth is expected this spring.

A gorilla’s typical gestation period is eight and a half months and, therefore, it is predicted that Kiki will give birth sometime in May. Kiki’s pregnancy was confirmed through an over-the-counter home pregnancy test, the same tests that humans use.

The animal management and veterinary staffs have been closely monitoring Kiki throughout her pregnancy. Through the well-established training programs at the Zoo, for the first time the staff was recently able to successfully obtain ultrasounds images of the baby. These images were obtained with Kiki’s active participation and cooperation – she held her belly up to the mesh while zookeepers and vets conducted the ultrasound examination.

“Kiki, who last gave birth in 2010, is doing great so far but, as with any pregnancy, we are carefully monitoring her health as her pregnancy progresses. Through the ultrasounds we have been able to see that the baby is active with a steady heartbeat, which are both very good signs,” said Dr. Susie Bartlett, Zoo New England Associate Veterinarian. "The staff has done an incredible job with the training programs, which play an instrumental role in assisting us in monitoring the health of the animals.”

Training through positive reinforcement and operant conditioning allows animals to voluntarily participate in activities that challenge them to think and learn new things in exchange for a favorite treat. Animals are not only trained in husbandry behaviors that assist the zookeepers in daily care, but also in medical behaviors that help the hospital staff in veterinary care.

“We’re thrilled to share this wonderful news with everyone. Kiki is a very experienced mother, and our visitors will have the unique opportunity to watch this baby grow up and observe the family dynamics,” said John Linehan, Zoo New England President and CEO. 

Gorilla Pregnant2Kiki, one of seven western lowland gorillas at Franklin Park Zoo, resides in the Tropical Forest Pavilion with her daughters Kimani and Kambiri. Her oldest daughter Kira moved to her new home at the Philadelphia Zoo two years ago.

Zoo New England is an active participant in the Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP), which is a cooperative, inter-zoo program coordinated nationally through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). SSPs are designed to maintain genetically diverse and demographically stable captive populations of species. Kiki’s pregnancy is the result of a recommended breeding by the SSP. Kitombe, affectionately known as Kit, is the father. He also fathered Kira, Kimani and Kambiri.

Western lowland gorillas are considered critically endangered in the wild. Western gorillas, found in the countries of Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Republic of Congo, Angola, and Central African Republic, are divided into the Cross River and western lowland subspecies. Both are considered critically endangered. Threats to gorillas vary geographically and western gorillas are primarily threatened by disease and the bushmeat trade.

Learn more about western lowland gorillas in Franklin Park Zoo's Animals section.