Baby gorilla born at Como Zoo dies

Alice and baby
Alice the gorilla holds her son. The male baby gorilla was born on Nov. 19.
Courtesy of Como Park Zoo

The baby gorilla born at Como Park Zoo last week has died.

Only four days old, the baby born to first-time mother Alice passed away on Sunday. The baby gorilla was doing well on Saturday, according to zoo officials, but on Sunday it became clear his health was failing.

• NewsCut: When primates grieve

Zoo staff tried to resuscitate the baby, but were unsuccessful. They will perform a necropsy to determine the cause of death, but it is suspected that he had trouble with food intake.

Senior zookeeper Allison Jungheim said it's a difficult time for both the staff and the animals.

"We let Alice and the rest of the family group of gorillas see the baby after it had passed, and I think that's a good way for them to get through that grieving process and to really understand what happened to the baby as well," Jungheim said.

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Alice's baby was the first baby gorilla born at Como Park Zoo in the 55 years that it's cared for gorillas.

The zoo opened an $11 million Gorilla Forest exhibit a little over a year ago that included Alice, a female gorilla named Dara and Schroeder, a male.

Nature took its course. The zoo last month announced that Alice and Dara were pregnant by Schroeder.

That both females became pregnant at about the same time amazed zookeepers.

Dara is expecting a baby in mid-December.

According to zoo officials, 26 percent of males and 20 percent of female gorillas die in their first year of life. First-time mothers also have higher infant mortality rates.

Gorillas in the wild are critically endangered, as logging and mining have hurt their east African habitat.

They're often poached and some have died from Ebola. Zoos across the country have put gorillas on exhibit to promote conservation.