When critically endangered species successfully reproduce offspring and show the world their adorable baby, I’m not going to lie, I also tend to feel like getting a new shot at life. An OB-gyn who delivered a western lowland gorilla via C-section at the Philadelphia Zoo even said the experience of actually making it happen felt like an incredible privilege.
Just a few weeks ago, another western lowland gorilla was born at Smithsonian National Zoo, the first of his kind in nine years!
“The birth of this western lowland gorilla is very special and significant, not only to our zoo family but also to this critically endangered species as a whole,” Meredith Bastian, the zoo’s curator of primates, said in a statement regarding Moke’s birth.
Born to mother Calaya and father Baraka, the baby gorilla was named Moke (Mo-Key). Keeper Melba Brown went through months of training with Calaya to make sure she is able to prepare for the task of motherhood. And those months have truly paid off, as soon enough Calaya is kissing and nursing adorable Moke without difficulty.
“This infant’s arrival triggers many emotions — joy, excitement, relief — and pride that all of our perseverance in preparing Calaya for motherhood has paid off,” Brown said. “We will provide support to her if need be, but I have every confidence that Calaya will be a great mom to Moke. I am excited to see how he will fit into the group dynamic. There are a lot of different personalities in this family troop, but they all work well together.”
Surely a cute baby gorilla is enough cause to celebrate. Though of course, I would like to be proud first of amazing mommy Calaya. Now let me just go get a piece of tissue to wipe away this stray teardrop on my left cheek.
Despite the looming controversies surrounding climate change, it hasn’t all been bad news for nature. Bans on hunting and the ability to help endangered species remotely have rehabilitated certain populations. One lucky animal is seeing a small but meaningful comeback in Scotland — it’s the polar bear!
The mother bear, Victoria, is one of three adult polar bears at the Highland Wildlife Park at Kincraig, near Aviemore.
The last polar bear cubs born in the UK were twins at Flamingo Land in Yorkshire on 8 December 1992.
Due to the high mortality rates of polar bear cubs, the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland is treading carefully. The wildlife park has since closed Victoria’s compound to the public and limited keeper interaction. Still, though far superior to most others, its zoo-like qualities remain a concern.
“We contend that our efforts on behalf of this species should be focused on mitigating the impacts of human-induced climate change and securing the species in the wild…” [said Born Free president Will Travers.]
Nevertheless, the park remains hopeful. I would, too, after a 25-year dry-spell!
It may not be everyday that a group of elephants rescue 300 tourists from a flood. But when humans need them, animals are always eager to lend a hand — or paw. For the Chilean government, protecting wildlife the way they do us is very much a priority. It recently rejected a billion-dollar mining project in order to save endangered penguins.
A Chilean company, Andes Iron, had wanted to extract millions of tonnes of iron in the northern Coquimbo region as well as building a new port.
The area is home to 80% of the world’s Humboldt penguins as well as other endangered species, including blue whales, fin whales and sea otters.
Chile’s environmental minister asserted that while he believes in development, risking ecological areas is a no-go.
Correspondents say mining companies have in recent years had a harder time obtaining permits in Chile because of growing interest in the environment from politicians and public opinion.
Chilean miners are infuriated, understandably. However, the rejection is also a wake-up call. Mining may be the easy answer, but not necessarily the best one.