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Critically Endangered Western Lowland Gorilla Born at the ABQ BioPark

The baby joins two year old Mashika as the next generation in the gorilla troop.
June 24, 2024

ALBUQUERQUE, NM - The ABQ BioPark is thrilled to announce the birth of a critically endangered western lowland gorilla over the weekend. The baby was born to first-time mother Nia Lewa at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 22. Both mom and baby are doing well with the support of the entire gorilla troop around them.

“This is exceptional news for the long term preservation of this critically endangered species.” said Lynn Tupa, ABQ BioPark zoo manager. “The primate care staff were present and ready to intervene for the health and safety of mom and baby. Luckily, this was unnecessary and Nia Lewa is doing an amazing job as a new mom!”

Staff has spent months training Nia Lewa to be a mom and to respond if the baby needed supplemental food or urgent medical care. This included bringing a small plush gorilla to the animal care staff and even holding the toy in a position that staff could safely bottle feed if necessary. She was also trained to voluntarily participate in weekly ultrasound imaging sessions so veterinarians could monitor the growth of the baby.

Fortunately, Nia Lewa, 21, also had a great role model for maternal behaviors. Samantha the gorilla gave birth to Mashika in August of 2022. Nia Lewa and the rest of the gorilla troop have experience around a little one and easily welcomed the new baby. 

Nia Lewa and baby will have access to their outdoor habitats. Guests should be prepared for the possibility of the Ape Walk to intermittently close to allow for privacy and a quiet environment while baby and mom bond. Like all the animals in our care, they also have the choice to go inside if the outside temperatures are particularly hot or cold. Nia Lewa joined the BioPark from Toledo Zoo in 2019 as part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP) recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). 

The father is 22-year-old Kojo, who came to the BioPark in early 2021, also as an SSP recommendation by the AZA. The animal care staff will likely not be able to determine the sex of the baby for a few weeks.

MEDIA: Interview a-roll, b-roll, and photos available here.


The ABQ BioPark is a living environmental park that protects the natural world and connects communities with nature. It is a refuge for thousands of animals and plants cared for by zoological, marine and botanical experts who lead significant science-based conservation work in New Mexico and around the world. The BioPark consists of four distinct areas: ABQ BioPark Aquarium, ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden, ABQ BioPark Zoo, and Tingley Beach.

The ABQ BioPark is an accessible facility and a division of the Department of Arts & Culture, City of Albuquerque, Tim Keller, Mayor. We are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and a member of the American Public Gardens Association. In 2023, ABQ BioPark earned the American Humane Certified™ seal of approval for its excellent treatment of animals and commitment to conservation. For more information, visit or call 311 locally or 505-768-2000 (Relay NM or 711).