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Baby Gorilla Dies at Pittsburgh Zoo

"The Pittsburgh zoo family is mourning the loss today of our little baby Gorilla," said Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium President and CEO Dr. Barbara Baker. The three-and-a-half month old male was the first gorilla born at the Pittsburgh in the last ten years.

Zoo staff noticed the animal was lethargic, sluggish, and not able to cling tightly to his mother Friday morning. The animal was separated from its mother and taken to the zoo's Animal Care Center where Baker said it was determined the baby was in respiratory arrest.

Zoo veterinarians worked on the baby gorilla for ten hours but were unable to improve the animal's condition. "Early Saturday morning, he went into respiratory and cardiac arrest and CPR was unsuccessful," said Baker

"It is heartbreaking for all of us when an animal dies," said Baker, "But is even harder to accept when it is a young animal who seems to be doing well."

The baby gorilla had not been named. "We really don't think baby gorillas are out of the woods until 6 months of age when they start eating solid foods and start weaning from mom." Had the animal made it past the half-year mark it would have been given a name.

Zoo officials say a necropsy was performed but results will not be available for several weeks.

The baby had been lethargic Wednesday after his grandmother had taken him from his 15-year-old mother, Moka. Staff separated the baby from his grandmother and "after he ate and drank, he perked up and happily went back to mom," according to the zoo.

The gorilla was born February 9, 2012. It was the mother's first birth. The father, Mrithi, was the first gorilla born at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. "Mrithi's genetics are valuable to the western lowland gorilla species in North America," said Baker. The zoo will try to breed the two animals again.

The zoo said western lowland gorillas are an endangered species due to loss of habitat, poaching, and disease, so it is important to make sure there is a robust breeding program with diverse animals.