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The best gift on Nadiri's 25th birthday—the mama gorilla and her baby are bonding

Posted by Gigi Allianic, Communications

We have some wonderful news to share! Western lowland gorilla Nadiri and her new baby girl are now together bonding and the baby is thriving. The newborn is the second baby for Nadiri—who marks her own 25th birthday today—and the first between Nadiri and dad, 21-year-old Kwame. The newborn gorilla—the 15th gorilla born at our zoo—doesn't have a name yet, but that is coming soon.

Nadiri's new daughter, at only a few days old. Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

Nadiri gave birth to her second daughter two weeks ago, on January 29th, but didn’t immediately pick her up to nurse or keep her warm. So shortly after birth, gorilla and veterinary staff stepped in to provide round-the-clock care for the baby including bottle feeding her human infant formula, keeping her warm and providing her with short visits with her mother.

Nadiri holds her baby close to her and the two are now together 24/7. Photo: Woodland Park Zoo 

“During the first few days, Nadiri stayed close and picked up her baby for short periods but didn’t show interest in nursing her. However, she began holding her baby for longer periods and by the tenth day she held her for 24 hours,” said Martin Ramirez, mammal curator at Woodland Park Zoo. Since those introduction sessions, the baby is now with mom full-time and has even started to nurse, but continues to be supplementally bottle-fed by the gorilla keepers, too.

The newborn being held by her dedicated keepers just a few days after birth. Photo by Jeremy Dweyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo.

Nadiri was partially hand-raised as an infant due to medical issues during her own birth—so the gorilla keepers worked with her every day to help her learn good maternal skills when she was pregnant five years ago with her first-born, Yola. They did the same throughout this second pregnancy, making sure Nadiri would know how to pick up, cuddle, and bring a burlap “baby” doll to the keepers in case supplemental feedings were needed for her babies.

Nadiri with her firstborn daughter, Yola, in 2015. Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo 

Our gorilla keepers used a burlap doll to help Nadiri practice maternal behaviors like cuddling and holding her baby. Photo: Woodland Park Zoo

“Thanks to the dedication and expertise of our gorilla keepers, the training sessions have paid off. Nadiri brings her baby to the keepers for bottle feedings eight times a day and overnight,” said Ramirez. “We’re overjoyed that Nadiri has engaged with her baby and is providing good maternal care while allowing the keepers to nourish her baby.”

Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

Today, February 12, Nadiri reaches another milestone. “Nadiri turns 25 years old today! This is such a celebratory time with her and her baby bonding and growing closer each day. We wish her a very happy birthday!” said Ramirez.

The new family remains in the off-view bedrooms for bonding and privacy. Dad Kwame and another female member of the family, Akenji, have been successfully introduced to the mom and baby. Kitoko (ki-TOE-koh), a male who was born in March 2020 during the pandemic, will be introduced next week to the baby and family along with his mom, Uzumma, and Nadiri’s 5-year-old daughter, Yola. In addition to Nadiri’s family group, another group lives separately at the zoo: Vip (father of Yola) and Jumoke.

Kitoko, who is half-brother to the new baby, will turn one next month. Here he is being held by his mother, Uzumma. Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

Growing Up Gorilla
We know you're all eager to hear updates about mom and baby, so we invite you to follow along at There you will find all the exciting news about Nadiri and her new baby as well as updates about little Kitoko, the baby's half-brother who will turn one next month, and older half-sister Yola who is now 5.

Kitoko already enjoys play sessions with half-sister Yola, who is 5. Before long, the new baby will be old enough to join in. Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo.

Become a ZooParent in honor of Nadiri's new baby! 
ZooParent adoptions are the perfect way to pay tribute to the zoo’s newest addition. ZooParent adoptions help the zoo provide exceptional care for all of Woodland Park Zoo's amazing animals and support conservation efforts in the Pacific Northwest and around the world.

Help gorillas in their natural range
Every visit to Woodland Park Zoo supports conservation of animals in the wild. Join the zoo by recycling old cell phones and other used handheld electronics through ECO-CELL to help preserve gorilla habitat. Reclaiming the minerals in electronics and diverting them from landfills help reduce demand for mining in gorilla habitat. Drop off used handheld electronics including cell phones, smartphones, iPods, iPads, tablets, adapters, chargers, MP3 players, handheld gaming systems and their accessories at drop boxes located at both zoo entrances or the gorilla overlook. Funds generated from ECO-CELL support the Mondika Gorilla Project and Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.


Unknown said…
Aww. It looks Nadiri's maternal instincts are kicking in faster this time. Good job team Woodland Park Zoo.
It would also be interesting to see a baby photo comparison between Yola, Kitoko and baby, to see how they resemble each other.