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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Nine-day-old baby gorilla dies of a fractured skull just days after making debut as Chicago zoo's star attraction

By Daniel Miller

A baby gorilla born earlier this month at Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo has died from head trauma and a skull fracture.

Zoo staff discovered the baby girl’s mother, Bana, carrying the dead infant on Friday morning.

Spokesman Sharon Dewar said they have yet to establish exactly how she fractured her skull.

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Proud moment: Beaming mother Bana shows off her baby at Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo just days before the newborn died

She told MailOnline: 'There are no bite marks or cuts and no sign of aggression, but it is possible she may have been dropped or even sat on.

'We're hoping a full necropsy will give us an answer. It happened at night and it was too dark to be captured by the cameras in the exhibit.'

Megan Ross, vice president of Animal Care, said: 'We are all surprised and very saddened by this tragic turn of events.

'We have been watching the mother and infant very closely since the birth and felt cautiously optimistic that the baby was healthy and being cared for appropriately.'

Staff allowed Bana to hold the baby, a western lowland, for several hours 'in order to make peace with what happened,' she added.

The baby was the 49th gorilla to be born at the zoo, but the first new western lowland since her half-brother Amare was born at the zoo in 2005, the Courier-News reports.

Curious: The baby wriggled around in her mother's arms. Tests showed she died of head trauma

She was introduced to the public to much fanfare only last Tuesday and became an instant star attraction.

She had still yet to be named wheh she died.

Bana was moved from Brookfield Zoo to Lincoln Park Zoo in 2010 to mate with Kwan, a 22-year-old silverback gorilla.

Clinging on: The baby grips her mother as father Kwan, a silverback, stays close

The pairing was successful, with Bana giving birth to the girl on November 16.
It was Bana's first baby.

Curator of primates Maureen Leahy said Bana had adjusted well to nursing and carrying the baby.

She added that the newborn's tight grip showed she was in good health.

Time for a cuddle: Mother and baby. The zoo said 'we are very saddened by this tragic turn of events'

A preliminary necropsy on Friday gave the cause of death as head trauma and a skull fracture.

There were no signs the injury was caused by aggression.

Western lowland gorillas are one of the most endangered species in the world.
In their natural African habitat they have been poached to near extinction for 'bush meat.'

Female gorillas typically have around three babies in their lifetime.

Newborns weigh between three to four pounds at birth, about half that of a newborn human.

A fully grown male adult gorilla weighs about 400 pounds.

The babies learn to crawl at around two months and can walk before they are nine months old.



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