A 12-year-old western lowland gorilla named Pele is pregnant and expected to give birth later this year. With a gestation period of eight and half months, Pele is expected to give birth in November 2014.
This pregnancy 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. Western lowland gorillas are an endangered species.
Pele came to Busch Gardens in February 2010 from the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas. She quickly integrated into the park’s gorilla troop, and Bolingo, one of Busch Gardens’ male gorillas and the suspected sire, quickly took interest. Born in November 2005 at Busch Gardens, Bolingo was the first successful gorilla birth in Busch Gardens’ history.
Both Pele and Bolingo, along with Busch Gardens’ other gorillas, can be seen in the Myombe Reserve habitat. Pele will continue to be on guest view until she gives birth.
Since 2004 Busch Gardens has supported the Mbeli Bai study of western lowland gorillas in the remote region of the Nouabale-Ndoki National Park in Africa's northern Congo. The project is supported through the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund. Coordinated by the Wildlife Conservation Society, the study's focus on the rarely seen ecology and social behavior of the lowland gorilla is resulting in ground-breaking data on this fascinating and endangered species.