Critically endangered gorilla born at Ireland zoo

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A zoo in Ireland has welcomed the newest member to its family: a baby western lowland gorilla!

First-time mother Kafi gave birth to the baby on April 1, Dublin Zoo announced.

Zookeepers have not yet been able to determine the infant's gender since the new mom has been keeping the baby close to her chest since birth.

“Kafi is doing a fantastic job so far as a first-time mother, keeping the young baby physically close in these crucial early stages," said Helen Clark-Bennett, team leader of the African Plains section of the zoo.

She said the proud mom has quickly adapted to her new role, in part because she's seen other gorillas at the zoo take care of their young.

"Since she arrived with us back in 2012, Kafi has witnessed other female gorillas give birth and raise their young which has been a huge help in teaching Kafi how to look after her own baby," Clark-Bennett said. "This new birth is a great step forward for this critically endangered species.”

The zoo said the father, named Bangui, has been at Kafi's side since the newborn's arrival.

"Bangui is proving to be an attentive father and at night has been sleeping close to Kafi and the baby," Clark-Bennett said.

Bangui arrived at the Dublin Zoo last year following the death of long-term alpha male "silverback" Harry. Alpha males develop silvery white hair on their back and hips.

"Bangui was quickly accepted as the new alpha-male of the troop and has begun his transformation into a silverback gorilla," the zoo said in a statement.

Western lowland gorillas are classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Red List of Threatened Species.

The zoo said the number of western lowland gorillas living in the wild is expected to fall over 80% between 1980 and 2046 due to deforestation, commercial hunting and the highly-contagious Ebola virus.