Life at a living institution isn’t always easy. Today, I’m deeply saddened to report that female gorilla Rollie delivered a stillborn gorilla last night at Regenstein Center for African Apes.
It’s a tough outcome for Rollie, her mate, Kwan, and the members of their troop. It’s equally devastating for the zoo’s dedicated animal care experts, who have spent months waiting to welcome this new arrival.
This was the first offspring Rollie has carried full-term. While the labor was uneventful, the offspring emerged unresponsive. To come to terms with the loss, Rollie held the stillborn until late this morning. Our animal care staff have reported that troop mates appear to be displaying special understanding and tenderness toward Rollie—particularly Bana, who lost an infant in November due to accidental head trauma.
These losses, while unfortunate, aren’t uncommon. Experts report that 18–28 percent of western lowland gorillas don’t survive their first year. A necropsy is underway to determine what caused the stillbirth, but full results may not be known for several weeks.
Still, knowing that a loss may occur doesn’t make it any less difficult when it happens. My heart goes out to our zoo family. I ask you to keep them in your thoughts and continue to offer the heartfelt—and deeply appreciated—sympathy you’ve expressed so well of late.
Lincoln Park Zoo has always been a leader in gorilla conservation and care. Even as we mourn this loss, we will continue to work with zoos across the country to advance the well-being of this amazing species.
Thank you for your support,