Gorilla Gives Birth To A Baby & Surprises Zookeepers Who Thought The Animal Was Male

Jul 28, 2023 by apost team

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is renowned for its vital contributions to wildlife conservation. Jack Hanna, who served as director between 1978 and 1993, greatly improved the facility’s image during his service in the organization, which has now been voted twice as the number one zoo in the United States in different years. 

The zoo is also pivotal to conserving gorillas and ensuring they can grow in social circles. It welcomed the first gorilla born outside of the wild, Colo, in December 1956 and has continued to preserve or contribute to the efforts of other facilities to preserve gorillas for over 60 years. 

“We are a proud supporter of several gorilla conservation projects in Central Africa, from research to rescue and rehabilitation missions,” the zoo's blog read. “Over the last 27 years, PIC has supported more than 60 projects focused in Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo,” they added.

A total of 34 gorillas have been born in the Columbus Zoo since Colo’z birth. Currently, some of the gorillas in the zoo include Mac, 39 (M), Kamoli, 10 (M), and JJ, 6 (M). The females include Kinyani, 40 (F), Tabibu, 31 (F), Nia, 29 (F), and Cassie, 29. (F), Sue, 18 (F), Sully, 8 (F), and Jamani, 3 (F). According to the zoo’s blog, Western Lowland gorillas are particularly endangered due to deforestation, hunting for bushmeat, and habitat loss; hence, the births of new gorillas are typically exciting developments in the zoo. 

On July 19, 2023, the zoo announced that one of its gorillas, Sully, surprised the gorilla care team when they saw that she had given birth to a healthy baby gorilla. The team was surprised because everyone thought Sully was male. Continue reading to learn how the team mixed up the gorilla’s sex. 

N’djia, unnamed baby girl gorilla (2020), (Mario Tama/Getty Images News via Getty Images)

Sully delivered two surprises to zookeepers when she welcomed her baby in mid-July, according to the blog posted on July 19, 2023. Sully started living in the Columbus Zoo in 2019 when she was 4 — an age where it is difficult to tell a gorilla’s sex. 

“The baby’s mother, 8-year-old Sully, was believed to be a male gorilla before this surprise birth,” the zoo wrote and added, “The gorilla care team discovered her holding the unexpected baby gorilla early Thursday.”

The zoo also updated fans about the development on Instagram. 

“We have an adorable surprise to share with all of you today! Our gorilla family just got a little bigger with the unexpected birth of a female baby gorilla!” the announcement started

As to why the zoo was mistaken about her sex, they explained that Sully’s first habitation identified that she was male. Furthermore, she was healthy when she arrived, and her mother took good care of her, so she only got a heart check, as great apes are prone to heart problems. 

“Veterinarians at the zoo where Sully was born maintained a hands-off approach in their care,” the zoo continued

“Until about the age of 8, males and females are about the same size, and they don’t have prominent sex organs,” they also shared.

Since the zoo refrains from anesthesia unless important, and because gorillas don’t demonstrate signs of pregnancy, they had no way to tell Sully was pregnant. Nevertheless, the gorilla’s family group has accepted her infant, and she will remain with them. The zoo will also do a health check and DNA test to determine the baby’s paternity later. However, they are reassured that Sully is taking care of her baby girl well. 


Did you know that gorillas’ sexes could not be distinguished early? What do you think of the zoo’s approach to its gorillas? Let us know — and pass this article on to your friends, family, and lovers of zoos. 

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