One of North America’s leading zoos, Busch Gardens in Florida, has announced the birth of an endangered baby gorilla.
“Oliver”, a male endangered western lowland gorilla, is being cared for by 28-year-old mother, Mary, who came to Busch Gardens in February 2010 from Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas. The father is 10-year-old Bolingo, who was born at Busch Gardens in 2005. This successful birth makes a total of seven gorillas that call Busch Gardens Tampa Bay home.
This birth is part of Busch Gardens’ participation in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP). The mission of the SSP is to cooperatively manage specific, and typically threatened or endangered, species populations within AZA-accredited facilities. Busch Gardens’ participation helps create genetically diverse, self-sustaining populations to guarantee the long-term future of these animals.
The western lowland gorilla inhabits the tropical forests of West Africa, specifically Cameroon, Central African Republic, Gabon, Congo, and Equatorial Guinea. Due to poaching and disease-induced habitat destruction, western lowland gorillas are listed as a critically endangered species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) list of endangered species.
Since 2004, the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Conservation Fund has supported the study of western lowland gorillas around the world, including the remote region of the Nouabale-Ndoki National Park in Africa's northern Congo. Grants, on-site support, rescue and rehabilitation of orphaned primates is resulting in ground-breaking data on this fascinating and endangered species. The Fund sends 100 percent of donations to on-the ground wildlife conservation efforts, including support for animal rescue, habitat protection and conservation education programmes in the U.S. and around the world.