For Release: Jan. 17, 2007
Peper Long (202) 633-3082 or (202) 391-2471
John Gibbons (202) 633-3083 or (202) 391-4231
National Zoo Welcomes Back Male Gorilla
Staff at the Smithsonian's National Zoo is welcoming home a gorilla.
“Baraka,” a male western lowland gorilla, arrived from Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo in December but that was not his first time at the National Zoo. Baraka was born at the National Zoo April 11, 1992.
“Haloko,” one of the Zoo's female gorillas, gave birth to Baraka. However, she rejected him and he was immediately adopted by another Zoo female, “Mandara.” At that time, Baraka was only the second zoo gorilla known to have been spontaneously adopted by another female in a group.
Since his release from the mandatory quarantine period for incoming Zoo animals, Baraka has been getting re-acquainted with his surroundings and has had only visual access to the other Zoo gorillas. Physical introductions began yesterday morning—Baraka and Haloko were released into the same exhibit space. This first introduction was successful: After brief periods of displaying natural aggression, the two began to relax. The slow and steady introduction process will continue in the coming weeks. During these introductions, the Great Ape House will be closed to visitors.
The name Baraka is Swahili for “blessing.”
There are six western lowland gorillas at the National Zoo: females Holoko (39), Mandara (24), Kigali (12), and males Kwame (7), Kojo (5), and Baraka (14).
There are several subspecies of gorilla, including western lowland gorillas, and all are considered “endangered” according to the World Conservation Union's Red List of Endangered Species. Threats ranging from the bushmeat trade and logging industry to the effects of the Ebola virus and civil wars have had a devastating impact on gorilla populations. Some scientists estimate that in the past four years, more than 5,000 western lowland gorillas succumbed to the Ebola virus.
Male gorillas reach approximately 5 feet in height and usually weigh between 300 and 500 pounds. Adult males have silvery white hair on their backs, which inspired the term “silverbacks.” Females are usually about 5 feet tall and weigh approximately 200 pounds. Western lowland gorillas can be found in lowland tropical forests in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Nigeria.
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