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Oklahoma City Zoo welcomes newborn gorilla

The Oklahoma City Zoo's newest gorilla was born Thursday morning and is doing well, zoo staff said. Its sex has not yet been determined.
by Matt Patterson Published: February 15, 2013

Before he died last summer, Bom Bom left behind one final surprise for the Oklahoma City Zoo staff.

During a move between enclosures in late May or June, Bom Bom, a male gorilla, was with one of the zoo's female gorillas long enough to inseminate her, zookeepers said.

After a nine-month pregnancy, mother Kelele gave birth to a baby on Valentine's morning.

Bom Bom died unexpectedly June 26 at age 36 of a ruptured aneurysm in his heart.

The sex of the baby isn't known yet because its mother has held it closely since it was born, but curator Laura Bottaro said mother and baby appear to be doing well.

“The baby is clinging to its mother, and we have seen him nurse several times,” Bottaro said. “Those are very good signs. The baby strikes me as being very healthy.”

Zoo staffers discovered the pregnancy in July.

“We do pregnancy tests on the females on a monthly basis,” Bottaro said. “We did three more after the first positive test. We wanted to be sure. One of the things that made it easier later is that Kelele will allow her (keepers) to do ultrasounds on her, so we were able to monitor its development.”

Thursday's birth is the first of a gorilla at the Oklahoma City Zoo since George was born in 2004.

Bom Bom was also George's father.

Kelele and the unnamed baby have stayed in the day room at the Great EscApe exhibit.

A portion of the exhibit will be closed to allow for the mother and baby to bond, zoo spokeswoman Tara Henson said.

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by Matt Patterson
Matt Patterson has been with The Oklahoman since 2006. Prior to joining the news staff in 2010, Patterson worked in The Oklahoman's sports department for five years. He previously worked at The Lawton Constitution and The Edmond Sun....
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