SEATTLE, WA — We offer this pleasant respite from news about the coronavirus that has dominated Seattle headlines for the past week: Uzumma, a 12-year-old western lowland gorilla at Woodland Park Zoo, gave birth to a baby boy earlier this month, and the first pictures of the two show an undeniable bond.

The baby gorilla, Uzumma's first offspring, came into the world at 2:48 a.m. on March 4. The yet-unnamed baby's father is Kwame, a 20-year-old gorilla who came to Seattle in 2018 via the Smithsonian's National Zoo.

The baby is the 14th gorilla born at Woodland Park Zoo, and the first since November 2015.

The public can't see the just yet. Uzumma and her son are under 24-hour watch by the zoo staff in sleeping dens, where they're given the chance to bond in a "hushed, comfortable environment," the zoo said.


Uzumma and her newborn are spending their first days in the hushed environment of sleeping dens. (Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo, used with one-time permission)

The baby made it through his first 72 hours of life, the most critical for newborn gorillas, said Martin Ramirez, the mammal curator at Woodland Park Zoo.

"We are closely observing for signs such as the infant grasping strongly to mom with hands and feet, soft vocalizing from mom in response to her infant vocalizing, mom properly positioning her baby that allows for nursing and the baby nursing within the first 48 hours," Ramirez said on the blog.


Experts say the bond between mother gorillas and their offspring is undeniable and often long lasting. Uzumma is proving herself to be an excellent first-time mother to her infant son, the Woodland Park Zoo said. (Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo, used with one-time permission)

Woodland Park Zoo says it's in the best interest of both Uzumma and her baby that she be allowed to raise him. In the wild, infants cling to their mother until they're 3-6 months old and begin to walk, but weaning doesn't typically begin until they're about 3 years old.

The mother-infant bond, though, "is unyielding and can last for many years," according to .


Uzummas baby began nursing shortly after birth, a good sign, according to Woodland Park Zoo officials. (Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo, used with one-time permission)

Everything's going well a week after the baby's birth, and Uzumma is proving herself to be "a wonderful first-time mother," said Dr. Darin Collins, director of animal health at Woodland Park Zoo.

"So far Uzumma is showing good maternal skills. She's holding her baby and being attentive," Collins said. "We will do visual neonatal exams only and remain hands off. However, if there are any visible concerns, we will intervene."


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Uzumma will be given every chance to raise her baby as she would in the wild, where infants cling to their mothers for 3-6 months after birth and typically aren't weaned until they're about 3 years old. (Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo, used with one-time permission)

Read more on the .
on the zoo's Facebook page.

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