A female gorilla who was the first in the world to undergo fertility treatment has given birth to her third baby – after conceiving naturally.
Proud Salome, a critically endangered western lowland gorilla, gave birth at Bristol Zoo on Tuesday.
She was the first in the world to take human fertility drug Clomid in 2006 when she failed to fall pregnant despite mating regularly with partner Jock.
Vets began smuggling the drug – which encourages the ovaries to release eggs – into her food and she quickly conceived.
Now Salome has delighted her keepers by conceiving naturally with Jock.
John Partridge, senior curator of animals at the Zoo, said: ”We are thrilled with the arrival of a baby gorilla.
”It is still very early days, but Salome is a great mother and has been cradling and cuddling her baby affectionately.
”We are pleased to say that both Salome and the baby are doing well.
”Salome keeps the baby very close and we are keen to give the gorillas space, therefore it is still too early to determine the sex of the baby.
”Naturally the gorilla keepers will keep a very close eye on mother and baby in these crucial first few days and weeks to ensure that they, along with the rest of the gorilla group, are healthy, content and bonding well.”
He added that the gorilla is the perfect present for the Zoo, which celebrates its 175th birthday this year.
The Gorilla House has been temporarily closed to allow the gorillas, including Salome and dad Jock, time to bond with the new arrival.
Mother-of-three Salome first gave birth in 1988 and her last baby Komale was born in December 2006 following the ground-breaking fertility treatment.
Bristol Zoo now has a total of seven gorillas, silverback Jock, Namoki, six, Komale, four, Kera, seven and Romina, the Zoo’s other adult female gorilla.
They are all part of an international conservation breeding programme for the western lowland gorilla, which is a critically endangered species.
Vast numbers of primates have been affected by forest destruction, diseases and slaughter for the illegal bush meat trade.
There are thought to be as few as 100,000 western lowland gorillas in the wild.
fantastic news….wish we could visit sooner.