Posts Tagged With: Species Survival Plan

New silverback joins female gorillas

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Silverback Subira in his new habitat at the Dallas Zoo.

Silverback Subira in his new habitat at the Dallas Zoo.

He’s a sight for sore eyes — a handsome fella and a patient man (swooning much?). Subira, a 19-year-old Western lowland gorilla, has joined the Dallas Zoo troop as a breeding male, creating our first family group in over a decade.

The silverback couldn’t be a better fit for our three gorilla girls: Megan, Madge and Shanta. Subira already has caught the eye of 9-year-old Megan. “She’s definitely the most interested and the least nervous about getting close to him,” mammal supervisor Sarah Villarreal said. “She’s very pushy and stays very close, trying to appease him.”

Subira is very caring and the introductions have gone perfectly. All four gorillas have been together 24 hours a day since last week. Subira went out into the habitat with the females for the first time this week, but is still a little hesitant to explore.

Western lowland gorilla, Subira

Western lowland gorilla, Subira

He comes from the Granby Zoo in Quebec, Canada, where he’s lived for the past five years. “This is huge for the Dallas Zoo, since we haven’t had a gorilla baby in over 10 years,” said Keith Zdrojewski, mammal curator. “It was hard work to get an international gorilla here with the amount of paperwork and agencies involved. We’ve put in a lot of effort to bring him here for this purpose.”

The breeding recommendation comes from the Species Survival Plan (SSP) for Western lowland gorillas. SSP is a conservation and breeding program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums that manages efforts to ensure genetic diversity for the survival of endangered species.

It’s a hopeful future for our new family group! You can find the group out every day in the north habitat, along the Gorilla Trail entrance near the Giants of the Savanna.

Categories: Africa, Conservation, Gorilla, Mammals | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Little Obi mandrill’s won the heart of his first-time mom

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blg_ObiSaffronDon’t expect to see our new mandrill mom letting her baby out of sight. To keep 4-month-old Obi out of trouble, 14-year-old Saffron watches over his every move – and that’s not easy, given his high energy level. Keepers say Saffron has embraced motherhood. “Primates protect their babies with their lives. Their baby is their status, and their status can rise if they have a baby. They’re better moms than humans,” said Sarah Villarreal, mammal supervisor. “This is Saffron’s first baby, and she’s doing phenomenally.”

Obi is the first mandrill born at the Dallas Zoo in 24 years. His birth March 28 was exciting, but nerve-wracking, too. “Saffron’s never been around a baby, and she’s never seen a baby be born,” Villarreal said. “Just like a human, if you haven’t seen it, you might not necessarily know what to do. But she’s terrific. She’s doing everything she’s supposed to be doing.”

Because mandrills are “precocial” animals, meaning they develop quickly, Obi is growing fast. He’s eating solid food and bouncing around the habitat. Mandrill babies typically become independent from mom around six months old, but you never really know how independent they’ll be. “Every mom is different,’’ Villarreal said. “Some moms are overbearing. We see that with primates — some end up as mama’s babies for life.”

Loving attention from guests, Obi and Saffron often hang out at the main window into their Wilds of Africa habitat. Obi, a jumping ball blg_Obiof energy, is incredibly responsive, putting his hand up to guests’ hands when they touch the glass or playing peek-a-boo. He’s vocalizing now, and he smiles a lot. Plus, he’s beginning to develop the beautiful coloring of a male mandrill, with his facial ridges turning dark blue and his rear turning red. (See video.)

The name “Obi” is a Western Africa Igbo word meaning “heart,” and this mother-son relationship definitely melts the heart. In the future as Saffron has more babies, she’ll most likely loosen the reins, but for now she stays close to Obi. Your best chance to see them is early in the morning as they eat their breakfast, usually in front of the window.

Obi’s birth is part of the Dallas Zoo’s participation in the Species Survival Plan for Mandrills, a conservation and breeding program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums that manages efforts to ensure survival of the endangered species. With fewer than 100 mandrills in North America, the Dallas Zoo works with other zoological parks through the SSP to ensure that the gene pool remains healthy and genetically sound.

Mandrills are the world’s largest monkeys, close relatives of baboons and drills. They’re native to tropical rain forests of central and west Africa, including Congo, Cameroon and Gabon. The species is vulnerable due to hunting and habitat loss.

Be sure to share this special video with your friends!

Categories: Africa, Mammals, Mandrill | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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