Berlin zoo celebrates first gorilla birth in 16 years

The newborn, which yet has to be named after its sex can be determined, was born to 24-year-old first time mom Bibi and her 16-year-old partner Sango, the zoo said.

During the current coronavirus pandemic, not even keepers or veterinarians will go close to the little primate.

In January, as many as eight gorillas at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park were presumed to have contracted COVID-19 from a human handler after one of the animals tested positive, marking the first known transmission of the virus to apes, zoo officials said at the time.

The coronavirus has also been found in a number of other wild-animal species in captivity, including several lions and tigers at the Bronx Zoo in New York and four lions at the Barcelona Zoo in Spain.

Berlin Zoo's indoor houses are currently closed to visitors due to coronavirus restrictions and the present quieter environment is just what the little gorilla needs, according to its keepers who were full of praise for both first-time parents. Bibi "is doing a fantastic job," said her keeper Christian Aust.

Over half the global population of mountain gorillas lives in the Democratic Republic of Congo's Virunga National Park which sits on the forest-covered volcanoes of central Africa.It is the continent's oldest national park and largest tropical rainforest reserve, covering 7,800 sq km (3,000 sq miles).