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Tue, May 1, 2007

Newborn in Shinda’s Group

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May 2007

Newborn in Shinda's Group

Kanama, an 11-year-old female in Shinda’s group, gave birth to her first baby last month.

Her new role as a mother obliged Kanama to grow up suddenly, and to leave behind the indefatigable childish energy of her own! Just days before the birth, Kanama was playing and rolling around with her 3-year-old sister, Kubana, and with other infant and juvenile friends in the group.

Now Kanama is facing the new and big responsibility of protecting her infant against all of the threats naturally existing in a gorilla’s life. She is definitely taking the task very seriously and appears for the moment to be nervous and overprotective. Even during resting sessions, Kanama moves and turns around frequently, jumping up nervously at any noise or movement that occurs.

Once again, however, the gorillas are confirming the strength of family bonds, showing increased cohesion during special events like this. It is for this reason that Kubyina and Kubana, the mother and sister of Kanama, are now often all together, giving their affiliative support to the new mother.

Shinda, the dominant male of the group, seems to be very proud of the newborn group member. Kanama often looks for his proximity to feel better protected and he seems to accept her closeness. Now, more than usual, they often rest together in physical contact.

Other gorillas of the group are also enjoying the new events and they all have approached the infant, trying to gain a good view despite the attempts of the mother to hide the infant with her body. The sex of the infant has not yet been determined, and trackers are waiting patiently for a good occasion to observe more closely, when Kanama begins to feel more relaxed.

Among the silverbacks, Shinda is not the only one staying close to the newborn. Ugenda, who is second in charge of the group, also spends some time in their vicinity and he seems to be particularly interested. One wonders if he believes he is the father, but we must await the results of a paternity analysis before knowing for sure. We did observe that Ugenda spent more time with Kanama some nine months ago, however….

We are very pleased to announce that Shinda’s group now includes 27 gorillas and hope for all the best for the new mother and infant.

Submitted by Veronica Vecellio, Research Assistant, Karisoke Research Center

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