Franklin Park Zoo has released a video of their gorilla Kiki’s ultrasound. This will be Kiki’s fourth baby and the birth is expected to occur during the spring. The father is Kitombe who keepers affectionately call Kit.

Gorillas are pregnant for eight and a half months so keepers predict the birth will take place in May. Keepers detected that Kiki was pregnant using the same over the counter test that human’s use.

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Using well established training programs keepers and vets have been able to closely monitor Kiki’s pregnancy. For the first time they were able to ultrasound Kiki and get images of the infant. Kiki was highly cooperative holding her belly up to mesh so vets could conduct the ultrasound.

Keepers use positive reinforcement training to get the gorillas to participate in activities in exchange for a favourite treat. The gorillas are trained to participate in daily husbandry practices along with medical procedures that assist vets.

Dr Susie Bartlett, Associate vet for Zoo New England said, “Kiki, who last gave birth in 2010, is doing great so far but, as with any pregnancy, we are carefully monitoring her health as her pregnancy progresses. Through the ultrasounds we have been able to see that the baby is active with a steady heartbeat, which are both very good signs. The staff has done an incredible job with the training programs, which play an instrumental role in assisting us in monitoring the health of the animals.”

Kiki is one of the seven gorillas who call Franklin Park Zoo home. They participate in the Species Survival Plan (SSP) which is a nationally managed program that aims to increase genetic diversity in the captive population of gorillas. The SSP recommended that Kiki be bred.

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Zoo New England President and CEO, John Linehan said, “We’re thrilled to share this wonderful news with everyone. Kiki is a very experienced mother, and our visitors will have the unique opportunity to watch this baby grow up and observe the family dynamics.”

Western lowland gorillas are threatened in the wilds of the Africa as a result of disease and the bushmeat tread. The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists them as critically endangered.

Photo Credit: Franklin Park Zoo

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