A female gorilla born nine days ago at the Lincoln Park Zoo has died, zoo officials said Friday.
Animal Care staff found the infant dead Friday morning still being carried by her mom.
The western lowland gorilla, the first of the endangered species to be born at the zoo since 2005, was born Nov. 16 and initially appeared to be doing well with her first-time mom, 15-year-old Bana.
“This is an extremely sad day for the Lincoln Park Zoo family,” said Megan Ross, vice president of Animal Care in a statement. “We have been watching the mother and infant very closely since the birth and felt cautiously optimistic that the baby was healthy and being cared for appropriately. We are all surprised and very saddened by this tragic turn of events.”
The baby's cause of death has yet to be determined. A full necropsy will be performed by Lincoln Park Zoo’s veterinarians and pathologists.
Bana was allowed to keep the baby for several hours to make peace with what happened, Ross said. Gorillas’ periods of mourning often are compared to those of humans, she said.
“The sad reality is that infant mortality is not altogether uncommon in wild animals, but nonetheless we are absolutely devastated to lose this important newborn which is a critically endangered species,” said Ross.
The Regenstein Center for African Apes is closed to the public Friday to give the animals time to mourn.