The Gulf Breeze Zoo is preparing for the arrival of new zoo babies, but one expectant mother in particular is receiving a lot of attention.
Rwanda, a 26-year-old female gorilla, is due to deliver her first baby within the next month, said Zoo Director Kayte Wanko.
“We are currently the only private facility to house a reproductive pair of gorilla," Wanko said. “We are pretty excited.”
Rwanda and her mate Babuka have a long history together. They were separated when the zoo tried to mate Rwanda with two other males, both of whom were aggressive and scared Rwanda.
When new ownership took over at the Gulf Breeze Zoo, Rwanda and Babuka were reunited. It was clear to the staff at the zoo that this was a pairing that fit both animals.
“They love each other, they had missed each other, and they wanted to be together,” Wanko said.
Wanko said that an animal’s comfort level has a lot to do with procreation. Many gorillas in managed care require medical intervention in order to conceive, but Rwanda and Babuka reproduced naturally.
“We couldn’t believe how easy it was,” said Wanko. “I’m just elated. Things went so much more smoothly than we thought it would.”