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New baby gorilla born at Port Lympne Hotel & Reserve, near Hythe

An adorable baby gorilla has been born at a Kent wildlife park.

The team at Port Lympne Hotel & Reserve, near Hythe, were delighted to welcomed the new arrival on Wednesday, January 8.

WATCH: First time mother bonds with newborn gorilla

The baby was born to first-time mum Viringika, a western lowland gorilla, and silverback Kouillou, with this being the 18th gorilla infant he has sired.

But with mum being so protective of her offspring, keepers have yet to see if the newborn is a boy or girl.

Phil Ridges, head of gorilla section at Port Lympne said: "We are absolutely delighted!

"Viringika is proving to be a great mum, she is being very protective and as yet we have not seen if this new little one is a boy or a girl."

This baby gorilla was born to first time mum Viringika at Port Lympne this month. Photo credit: Leanne Smith
This baby gorilla was born to first time mum Viringika at Port Lympne this month. Photo credit: Leanne Smith

The arrival takes the total number of births across the Aspinall Foundation’s two animal parks - Port Lympne and Howletts - to a record 147, cementing its reputation as the most successful breeder of this critically endangered species in the world.

Simon Jeffery, animal director added: "We are known best for the western lowland gorillas, we are very proud of our breeding programme.

"As well as caring for gorillas at our parks we also work closely with The Aspinall Foundation to protect them in the wild, and where possible, reintroduce gorillas born at the parks back into their natural environment."

Baby gorillas are born helpless and will initially be carried, close to their mother’s body, for several months, until they are old enough to be carried on their mother’s back.

Infants are usually weaned by the time they are three years old, but this can depend on the individual infant and mother.

The baby is the 147th to be born at the reserve. Photo credit: Leanne Smith
The baby is the 147th to be born at the reserve. Photo credit: Leanne Smith
The mum is being very protective of her newborn. Photo credit: Leanne Smith
The mum is being very protective of her newborn. Photo credit: Leanne Smith

Western lowland gorillas inhabit some of the most dense and remote rainforests in Africa so it is hard to accurately record exact numbers.

However, because of diseases, hunters and habitat destruction, gorilla numbers have been decimated by more than 60% over the last 20 to 25 years.

Visitors can already see the new arrival at The Palace of the Apes - as Viringika has been bringing the youngster outside during the 12pm and 3pm scatter feeds.

Another youngster at the reserve, named Louango and also born to Kouillou, celebrated his first birthday last year.

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