ASHEBORO — A gorilla at the N.C. Zoo gave birth Friday night, making this the second gorilla to be born at the zoo this month.
The male gorilla was born to Olympia, a 16-year-old gorilla that came to the N.C. Zoo from Zoo Atlanta in March 2009.
The baby and his mother went on exhibit Saturday morning, but the gender of the baby gorilla had not yet been determined until afternoon because zookeepers could not get close enough to the new mother and her infant to be sure of the sex, zoo spokesman Rod Hackney said.
Zookeepers have not yet named him.
Zookeepers saw signs that Olympia was going into labor as the gorillas were being brought in from the exhibit around 5 p.m. The baby gorilla was born in the holding quarters of the zoo about two hours later, and appears to be in good health, according to zoo officials.
Olympia appears to be providing excellent care for her first baby, zookeepers said.
The father of the baby gorilla, Nkosi, is a 19-year-old gorilla that arrived from the Columbus Zoo in March of 2008. He also fathered another baby gorilla, birthed by Jamani, a 12-year-old gorilla that arrived at the N.C. Zoo from the San Diego Zoo in January of 2010.
Jamani birthed a healthy male, whom zookeepers named Bomassa, on Aug. 4, only the second to be born at the state zoo.
The first was in 1989, when a male, Kwanza, was born and since transferred to Chicagos Lincoln Park Zoo in 1998 as part of the Gorilla Species Survival Plan developed by Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Kwanza has since fathered two baby gorillas of his own.
The AZA recommended all three gorillas for breeding.
Gorilla births are very rare in zoos, just five successful births out of nine pregnancies nationwide from 2011 to early 2012. Currently, nationwide there are about 350 gorillas in 52 zoos across the country.
Olympia was expected to give birth in October, but because the date of conception was earlier than zookeepers thought the expected delivery date was skewed by more than a month.