Lonely Planet Writer

England welcomes a newborn gorilla from a critically-endangered African species

A baby gorilla was born in England earlier this week, which is great news as it’s from a critically-endangered species. The three-and-a-half pound baby was born at the zoo at Chessington World of Adventures in Surrey, and it’s a Western Lowland gorilla, which is usually found in African forests.

The new baby born to Shanga at Chessington Zoo. Image: Chessington World of Adventures

There is no word on the baby’s gender yet, so until that is ascertained, the baby can’t be named. Chessington Zoo keeps a group of nine lowland gorillas at its resort, with the new baby bringing it to ten. Its mother is 17-year-old Shanga, who already has a daughter, Kuanza, who turns six this July. The father of both of Shanga’s babies is 21-year-old Damisi.

Mother Shanga bonding with her new baby at Chessington Zoo. Image: Chessington World of Adventures

At the moment, it’s a sensitive time as the mother and baby bond, but Chessington says that they are currently doing well and the baby is suckling. The zoo is part of a breeding programme for these endangered Western Lowland gorillas, and Shanga and her offspring are descended from Lomie, one of the first two gorillas to arrive to Chessington in March 1967 from Cameroon. The zoo’s first baby gorilla, Shani, was born in February 1990, and is the grandmother of this new arrival.

There are now ten Western Lowland gorillas at Chessington Zoo. Image: Chessington World of Adventures

Visitors can see the mother and baby in the Trail of the Kings area, which houses enclosures for gorillas, tigers, lions and binturong. The zoo is split in two, and the other side, the Creature Features area, houses enclosures for capybaras, mara, wallabies and meerkats. There are also reptiles and sea lions.

Mother Shanga cuddles her new baby at Chessington Zoo. Image: Chessington World of Adventures

For further information on the gorillas and how to how to book a visit, see here.