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Western Lowland Gorilla Is Expecting!

ATLANTA – April 7, 2016 – Kudzoo, a 22-year-old western lowland gorilla, is expecting an infant. The pregnancy was confirmed via ultrasound, and the Animal Management and Veterinary Teams detected a fetus on ultrasound in early April. A birth is expected in September 2016. The infant will be the third offspring of Kudzoo and 26-year-old silverback Taz and a grandchild of Kudzoo’s famous father, the late Willie B.

Every birth is critical for the western lowland gorilla population in North America. In the more than 50 years since the arrival of Willie B. in Atlanta in 1961, the stakes for his species have climbed higher than ever before. The western lowland gorilla is now classified as critically endangered. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), over a 25-year period, the combined threats of poaching, illegal hunting for the bushmeat trade, habitat loss and emerging diseases such as Ebola have decimated western lowland gorilla populations by 60 percent, with declines of as much as 90 percent in some parts of their range in western Africa.

“We’re delighted about welcoming another baby gorilla to the Zoo Atlanta family, in the continuing story of one of the Zoo’s greatest legacies – a legacy that began with Willie B.,” said Raymond B. King, President and CEO. “But the most important legacy is the one we owe to western lowland gorillas, now critically endangered, and more in need of our help and our voice than ever.”

Kudzoo’s infant will be the 23rd gorilla born at Zoo Atlanta since the opening of the landmark Ford African Rain Forest in 1988 – an event largely inspired by Atlanta’s connection to Willie B. Willie B., who passed away in 2000, remains the best-known animal figure in Zoo Atlanta history and was a catalyst for what has since evolved into a nationallyrecognized program for the care and study of gorillas.

In 2011, the 50th anniversary year of its gorilla program, Zoo Atlanta received the prestigious Edward H. Bean Award for Significant Achievement from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) for its long-term commitment to the species. Research published by Zoo Atlanta staff has influenced industry-wide improvements in the care of gorillas in zoos, as well as enhanced understanding of gorilla biology, with more than 100 published papers on maternal care, reproduction, social behavior and cognition. Zoo Atlanta is the headquarters of the Great Ape Heart Project, the world’s first effort to understand, diagnose, and treat cardiac disease across all four great ape taxa: gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees and bonobos. Zoo Atlanta also serves as the headquarters of its primary partner in gorilla conservation, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, and the Zoo provides pro-bono space and resources to support the Fossey Fund’s work for gorillas and their habitats in Africa.

Currently home to 20 individuals, Zoo Atlanta houses one of the largest populations of gorillas in North America. The Zoo is also home to three of the world’s oldest gorillas – Shamba, 57; Ozzie, 55; and Choomba, 53 – and as such has become a leader in the emerging field of geriatric gorilla care.

Stay tuned for exciting updates as Zoo Atlanta follows the milestones of Kudzoo’s pregnancy.

MEDIA CONTACT:

Rachel Davis Director of Communications rdavis@zooatlanta.org

404.624.2812 – office

404.309.2238 – cell

Gavin Johnson Public Relations and Communications Specialist

404.624.5980 – office

gjohnson@zooatlanta.org

About the gorilla program at Zoo Atlanta

The arrival of Zoo Atlanta’s most famous great ape resident, the late Willie B., in 1961, evolved into what is today a nationally-recognized program for the care and behavioral study of critically endangered western lowland gorillas. Twenty-two gorillas have been born at Zoo Atlanta since the opening of the landmark Ford African Rain Forest in 1988, with all infants having been mother-reared or reared by a gorilla surrogate. In 2011, the 50th anniversary year of its gorilla program, Zoo Atlanta earned the distinguished Edward H. Bean Award for Significant Achievement from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) for its long-term commitment to the species. Research published by Zoo Atlanta staff has resulted in more than 100 scientific papers on gorilla behavior, biology, reproduction and care. Zoo Atlanta is the headquarters of the Great Ape Heart Project, the world’s first coordinated effort to understand, diagnose, and treat cardiac disease across all four great ape taxa. Zoo Atlanta’s primary partner in gorilla conservation, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, is headquartered at Zoo Atlanta and protects and supports gorillas and their habitats in Africa.

About Zoo Atlanta

Viewed as one of the finest zoological institutions in the U.S. and a proud accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Zoo Atlanta has a mission to inspire value and preservation of wildlife through a unique mix of education and outdoor family experiences. From well-known native wildlife to critically endangered species on the brink of extinction, the Zoo offers memorable close encounters with more than 1,000 animals from around the world. The Zoo’s newest destination, Scaly Slimy Spectacular: The Amphibian and Reptile Experience, featuring more than 70 species in a 111,000 square-foot complex, opened in April 2015. Zoo collection highlights include Mei Lun and Mei Huan, the only giant panda twins in the U.S.; North America’s largest zoological collection of great apes; and a global center of excellence for the care and study of reptiles and amphibians. Up-close-and-personal animal experiences include behind-the-scenes Wild Encounters with African elephants, giant pandas, lemurs and Aldabra giant tortoises. Zoo Atlanta is open daily with the exceptions of Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Keeper talks, interactive wildlife shows, education programs and special events run year-round. For more information, visit zooatlanta.org or call 404.624.WILD.

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