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Mother gorilla protectively cuddles her newborn in adorable footage

"Brigitte Boas" (2020-05-19)

This is the heart-melting moment a newborn gorilla snuggles up to its mother after becoming the latest birth in a breeding programme to safeguard the critically endangered species.

image.php?image=b20annet063.jpg&dl=1Viringika, a western lowland gorilla, gave birth at Port Lympne animal reserve in Hythe, Kent, earlier this month and has been cradling the baby so protectively keepers have not had the chance to even check its sex.  

Each time Viringika ventures across the enclosure, she scoops the baby up in her tree-trunk arms and carries it close to her chest.    

Western lowland swing set builders gorillas and their numbers have dropped by more than 60 per cent over the last 20 to 25 years, according to the WWF.

Viringika, a western lowland gorilla scoops the baby up in her tree-trunk arms and carries it close to her chest

The newborn snuggles up to its mother nestling in a pile of hay after becoming the 147th birth in the Aspinall Foundation's breeding programme

But Aspinall Foundation's Kent wild animal parks - Port Lympne and Howletts - have steadily been fending off them being wiped out through their breeding programme.

They marked their 147th birth of western lowland gorillas with an adorable video of the mother and baby cuddling. 

The baby's father is silverback Kouillou, with this new infant being the 18th gorilla he has sired.





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Phil Ridges, head of the gorilla section at Port Lympne, said: 'We are absolutely delighted.

'Viringika is proving to be a great mum, she is being very protective and as yet we have not seen if this new little one is a boy or a girl'. 

The Aspinall Foundation has bred and then released hundreds of animals from its animal parks back into the wild, including eight black rhino, 12 grizzled langurs, 90 ebony langurs, 33 Javan gibbons, 11 European bison and more than 70 western lowland gorillas.  

Because Viringika is so protective of the newborn (pictured), keepers have not been able to check the baby's sex

Viringika carries the newborn close to her chest as she moves across the enclosure at Port Lympne

Viringika wraps her hefty arm around the newborn as she relaxes at the Kent wildlife park

Simon Jeffery, animal director at the zoo, added: 'We are known best for the western lowland gorillas, we are very proud of our breeding programme. 

As well as caring for gorillas at our parks we also work closely with The Aspinall Foundation to protect them in the wild, and where possible, reintroduce gorillas born at the parks back into their natural environment. 

Baby gorillas are born helpless and will initially be carried close to their mother's body for several month until they are old enough to be hauled on her back. 

Infants are usually weaned by the time they are three years old, but this can depend on the individual infant and mother. 

Western lowland gorillas inhabit some of the most dense and remote rainforests in Africa so it is hard to accurately record exact numbers.