Riverbanks narrows in on gorilla infant due date, troop has shift in hierarchy
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Riverbanks Zoo says its latest ultrasound with 12-year-old gorilla Kazi has let them better pinpoint her expected due date!
While they now anticipate the arrival of the infant in late May, keepers say the troop knows that day is coming, too.
In fact, Kazi's pregnancy has changed the hierarchy of how the family troop operates. While our cameras were rolling, we got a chance to see some of the interactions between the gorillas.
"Uh oh, here comes the big boss!" said John Davis, Director of Animal Care and Welfare at Riverbanks Zoo. Male Cenzoo used the ropes inside gorilla basecamp to swing down into the area where the females were gathered. "He's just coming into the display to show everyone's whose boss," added Davis.
His big display was just one of the many ways the family troop interacts and communicates.
"Primate societies are amazing," said Davis. "They are very well-balanced in how they have checks and balances and how they work together to form this cohesive troop."
Davis adds that throwing a pregnancy in the mix is included in that, as well. "When you're a pregnant female you get benefits in a primate society," he added.
For Kazi, being pregnant means she's moved up in the ranks. Out of the three females in the troop, keepers say Kazi used to be on the bottom of the totem pole, but since her pregnancy, she's taken the second spot.
"When Kazi walks into an area where there's food then Acacia will make note of her coming and her approach and often will move out of the way," said Davis.
Acacia, the oldest of the three females, has seemingly accepted her spot at the bottom of the hierarchy.
"I truly believe it's just an understanding of how they all accept their place," said Davis. "They all have benefits to working together and interacting together and supporting one another, she may have some signs and behavior that may show her objections, but she does accept her place."
Keepers say Kazi is also spending more time close to Macy, the dominant female, and Cenzoo the troop's male Silverback.
"Kazi would go off and roam by herself, but we see her more remaining with the troop on a more frequent basis," said Davis.
All-in-all keepers emphasize troop cohesion is stronger than ever. Even with the scene like the one we witnessed showing male Cenzoo's dominance in the troop, keepers say don't count the females out.
"If he were to cross a line, there's a nice check and balance between them because the females would certainly ban together," said Davis.
Right now there are no worries at base camp, just a lot of excitement as all of the gorillas prepare for baby. Keepers believe Kazi is around 26 weeks along and a gorilla's gestation period is about 36 weeks.
If all goes well, the baby should be here in a little more than 2 months.
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