A baby gorilla is “doing really well” after being born at Bristol Zoo Gardens shortly before Christmas.
The tiny western lowland gorilla was pictured on Wednesday being carried around the zoo’s Gorilla Island by mother Touni, 13.
Touni gave birth naturally overnight to the infant, whose sex is not yet known, in the early hours of December 22 with father Jock and the rest of the family troop nearby.
It is Touni’s second baby, as she gave birth to Ayana – who still lives at the zoo – in April 2017.
Lynsey Bugg, curator of mammals at Bristol Zoo, said: “We had a very early Christmas present, a brand new baby to our lovely family group of gorillas, which really just brings a lovely end to the year for us.
“It’s been quite difficult year but a lovely treat for us at the end.
“Both mum and baby are doing really well. She’s been a mum before so we weren’t overly concerned as she knows what she’s doing.
“She’s absolutely spot on. It’s feeding loads and she’s taking perfect care of it, always holding it in the correct position, keeping it nice and warm and clean. We can’t ask for anymore.”
Gorilla babies usually remain with their mother until the age of three or four, sharing a nest and feeding until then.
“From about four to six months is when you should start seeing a little bit of activity, with baby nibbling on little bits of food, learning how to walk and climb and those kind of things,” Ms Bugg said.
“It’s quite a slow process. The next few months it’ll just be carried and looked after by its mum.”
The new infant was born four months after another gorilla, Kala, 10, gave birth to a baby boy called Hasani.
Hasani is currently being hand-reared by keepers after Kala struggled to care for him.
Both Hasani and the new baby are important in helping to safeguard the future of western lowland gorillas which are critically endangered in the wild.
Bristol Zoological Society, which operates both Bristol Zoo Gardens and the Wild Place Project, is part of an internationally important breeding and conservation programme.
For more than 20 years, the society has supported a sanctuary in Cameroon that helps look after orphaned gorillas and chimpanzees.
Gorillas are hunted for their meat and their young are regularly taken and sold as pets, often to end up abandoned or dying of starvation.
Visitors would normally be able to see the gorilla at the zoo but it is currently closed due to lockdown measures in England.
In March, Bristol Zoological Society – a registered charity – launched a fundraising appeal to support its work during the pandemic.
“It’s really important if you can to support your local zoo the moment, obviously we are struggling as we are closed,” Ms Bugg said.
“We do rely very much on people coming through the gates to keep us going. When we’re open please come and support us but there is an appeal that we have currently going on too.
“You can go to the Bristol Zoo website and look at our appeal and financially support us that way by donating some money, if you can.”