Zookeepers at the Prague Zoo were shocked when 24-year-old Western lowland gorilla Shinda went into labor. No one at the zoo ever realized the gorilla was pregnant.
But on April 23, Shinda's water broke and surprised keepers began monitoring her contractions. The other female gorillas in her group stayed close, according to the Prague Zoo, and even the young gorillas watched carefully. The labor progressed smoothly and less than five hours later, the healthy baby was born.
Shinda has had several miscarriages in the past, so she wasn't expected to ever successfully have a baby.
According to the zoo, Shinda's pregnancy was hidden "thanks to her appetite."
“I cannot imagine what could have surprised me more. Not only did we fail to notice Shinda’s pregnancy but we also gave up all hope that she could have a baby some time ago,“ said the zoo's director, Miroslav Bobek. "The baby not only looks OK, it is perfectly all right. It looks that a miracle can really happen now and then."
The zoo reports that Shinda is taking care of the baby like an experienced mother. She cleaned it right away and, shortly after giving birth, was offered a meal of fresh fruit and vegetables by the keepers. And proving that she hasn't lost her healthy appetite, she ate the whole thing.
“When being fed, Shinda behaved with an air of sovereignty as if she was aware of her new privilege. She lost her dominant position among the females a year ago, but with a baby, her prestige in the group is probably going to increase again,“ said main keeper David Vala.
Because mother and baby are doing well, visitors have been allowed into the gorilla pavilion to see them. The baby's gender is still unknown.