Como Zoo expands with baby gorilla birth

Mother Dara and baby Arlene
First-time mother Dara and baby Arlene are doing well, according to zoo officials. The pair are expected to make their public debut sometime in late March.
Courtesy Como Park Zoo & Conservatory

A baby western lowland gorilla was born at St. Paul's Como Zoo last week.

The 5-pound female was born to mother Dara on Feb. 22 in the day room of the zoo's Gorilla Forest exhibit, the zoo said Monday. The baby has been named Arlene, in honor of longtime zoo volunteer Arlene Scheunemann who died in 2013.

Zoo officials said the infant appears to be strong and healthy. Dara initially wasn't able to nurse the infant, but zoo staff and vets gave liquids to the infant until the mother was able to start nursing.

Baby Arlene
Baby Arlene is the latest addition to a growing troop of western lowland gorillas at Como Park Zoo & Conservatory in St. Paul.
Courtesy Como Park Zoo & Conservatory

The zoo plans to publicly unveil the mother and infant in late March. Gorilla infants are typically carried on their mother's chests for the first three months of life. At about six months of age, the baby will start to ride on the mother's back.

"Gorillas are very family oriented," senior zookeeper Jo Kelly said in a statement. "Mom will let other family members see the baby and they will take their cues from mom as to how close they can be."

The birth brings the number of gorillas at the zoo to eight. Five gorillas live in the zoo's family group and three are bachelors. Another gorilla was born late last year but died shortly after birth. A baby orangutan was also born at the zoo in early January.

Video: Watch Dara and Arlene