1st baby gorilla born at Como Zoo dies just days later

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The baby gorilla born last week at the Como Zoo has died, the zoo announced Monday.

The gorilla was born to first-time mother Alice, 12, last Wednesday, but the infant died Sunday. The zoo says the gorilla's death may be related to complications with food intake, but it will do a necropsy to confirm.

The baby gorilla appeared to be doing well through Saturday evening – he was vocal and had a strong grip, the zoo said, and his mother was showing maternal instinct. However they weren't able to tell if she was nursing properly because her back was often to the zookeepers.

It's standard procedure to give the new mother and her baby time to bond, so the zoo doesn't intervene unless absolutely necessary. On Sunday, zoo officials said the baby gorilla's health was failing, so they stepped in and tried to resuscitate him, but were unsuccessful.

He was the first gorilla born at the Como Zoo since it began caring for the primates 50 years ago.

The Como Zoo says out of 437 gorilla births at Association of Zoos and Aquariums institutions since 1980, 26 percent of males and 20 percent of females didn't make it to their first birthday.

The infant mortality rates for wild western lowland gorillas is high at about 42 percent, the zoo says, noting first-time mothers have 50 percent higher infant mortality rates than second-time mothers.

Dara, an 11-year-old gorilla living at the zoo, is also pregnant. Her first child is due between December and February.

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