Cincinnati Zoo's breeding program for gorillas is expecting two babies

CINCINNATI (AP) -- The Cincinnati Zoo's gorilla breeding program is expecting its first babies since 1998.
Muke, 24, a mother of two, is due in August, and Samantha, 36, mother of six and grandmother of 11, is expecting in September, said Ron Evans, primate center team leader. Muke delivered the last gorilla baby here.
The father-to-be is Jomo, a 15-year-old silverback on loan from Toronto.
The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, with 47 gorillas born since 1970, ranks second nationally to the Bronx Zoo, which has had 57 births, said Dan Wharton, North America coordinator for the Gorilla Species Survival Plan.
Cincinnati's breeding program had been on hiatus since 1999, when Chaka, a silverback on loan from Philadelphia and father of nine babies here, returned home. The zoo's other male, Colossus, never showed any interest in breeding before he died April 11.
About 75,000 endangered lowland gorillas remain in the wild, and they're disappearing at the rate of 1,000 a year, zoo officials said.
For breeding purposes, Evans hopes for girls.
"One male is good for four or five females, which means females are at a premium," he said. "I'd be thrilled with two girls, but mostly I want two healthy, happy babies."

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