The Calgary Zoo‘s 20-year-old western lowland gorilla Dossi is expecting her first infant, the zoo announced Tuesday.
Dossi’s due date is anticipated for late April or early May, according to the zoo. The official baby watch will begin in late March.
“We are cautiously optimistic as this is Dossi’s first baby,” said Jamie Dorgan, director of animal care, health & welfare.
“Gorilla pregnancies are more likely to be unsuccessful the first time. There are lots of challenges ahead of us but the animal care, health & welfare team will be supporting Dossi every moment along the way. Our goal is to create an optimal environment for her to deliver a healthy infant, where she can calmly and instinctively care for her baby while also navigating troop family dynamics.”
The zoo said it will conduct extensive training with Dossi ahead of the birth, to ensure she is comfortable when the infant arrives. Direct intervention during the birth will only happen if Dossi’s health is at risk, or after the birth if the infant’s health and well-being are compromised.
If the pregnancy is successful, this will be the first infant for Dossi and the 23-year-old father-to-be Jasiri. The last successful gorilla birth at the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo was Kimani, who was born in 2016.
Dossi was born at the Bronx Zoo on Feb. 4, 2002. She came to the Calgary Zoo on May 21, 2009. Jasiri, the zoo’s male silverback, was born at Zoo Atlanta on June 21, 1998, and arrived in Calgary in June 2019.
Wild gorilla populations have decreased by 80 per cent over the last 30 years due to poaching and habitat destruction, mostly for the mineral coltan, according to the zoo. This birth represents “important genetic diversity within the western lowland gorilla Species Survival Program (SSP),” the zoo said.
The Calgary Zoo has been a supporter of gorilla conservation for more than 50 years.
Prior to Jasiri’s arrival, Kakinga was the zoo’s most successful male silverback, producing nine offspring with four different mates since he became the troop leader in 1993. His surviving lineage — five sons and three daughters — are still members of the SSP.
Dossi will remain with the troop when she gives birth. This is usual for a gorilla family. Dossi will be monitored by the zoo’s animal care, health and welfare team.