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Critically endangered western lowland gorillas born in London and Prague

London Zoo and Prague Zoo have both welcomed newborn gorillas, who belong to the critically endangered western lowland species.

After a brief 17-minute labour, London's new infant was born on Wednesday to mum Mjukuu, following an approximately eight-and-a-half-month pregnancy.

Its father, Kiburi arrived in London from Tenerife in November 2022 as part of the international conservation breeding programme.

Native to central Africa, western lowland gorillas were declared critically endangered in 2007 because of habitat loss as well as deaths caused by the Ebola virus and hunters who killed them illegally for their meat.

Their numbers in the wild have declined by more than 60 per cent over the last 25 years, but the program is helping ensure the preservation of a genetically diverse and healthy population of the gorilla subspecies.

Zookeepers are yet to confirm the sex of the infant.

10-year-old gorilla Duni holds her newborn baby at the Zoo in Prague, Czech Republic
10-year-old gorilla Duni holds her newborn baby at the Zoo in Prague, Czech Republic - Petr David Josek/AP

In Prague Zoo, a new female cub was born late on Tuesday to mum, ten-year-old Duni.

The Zoo has been breeding lowland gorillas since 1963 with the first cub born there on 13 December 2004. That cub was Moja, who became the first gorilla born in a zoo in the Czech Republic and is the grandmother of the new baby. Its father is a twenty-six-year-old male Kisumu.

Shortly after the birth, the zoo staff gave the newborn a rest from the public and the gorilla complex was closed.

The public was allowed in again on Thursday to view the new baby.

Jan Mengr, the curator of the apes at the zoo, said the birth was an important event and essential for the social system of the endangered species.

"From a European point of view, this rearing is important because it is recommended and encouraged. We expect that there will be an opportunity to transfer the cub to another zoo. There's plenty of time for that because they leave at about seven years old," said Mengr.

10-year-old gorilla Duni holds her newborn baby at the Zoo in Prague, Czech Republic
10-year-old gorilla Duni holds her newborn baby at the Zoo in Prague, Czech Republic - Petr David Josek/AP

Prague Zoo achieved better and broader facilities thanks to the division of the gorillas into two separate reservations, according to Bobek.

From Friday visitors can vote for the name of the cub, choosing from ten names that the zoo has selected from suggestions from children in Cameroon, Africa.

"We asked the children of the Dja Biosphere Reserve in Cameroon for suggestions...because they are participating in our Wandering Bus project and have become gorilla conservationists," explained the director of Prague Zoo, Miroslav Bobek.