Baby gorilla dies at the Milwaukee County Zoo

MILWAUKEE (AP) – A baby gorilla born less than a month ago at the Milwaukee County Zoo has unexpectedly died, the zoo said Thursday.

The western lowland gorilla, named Kassiu, was born March 19 to 13-year-old mother Naku and 27-year-old father Cassius.

Zookeepers reported the baby and mother appeared normal Wednesday morning. But by the afternoon, Kassiu appeared weak and stopped holding onto her mother, as newborn gorillas do, the zoo said in a statement.

The zoo’s medical staff examined the baby and gave her fluids, glucose and antibiotics. A neonatologist and pediatrician were also called in, but Kassiu died Wednesday evening.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine was expected to perform a complete necropsy, or animal autopsy. Preliminary results were expected within a few days but a complete report might take several months, depending on the cause of death.

The last gorilla birth at the zoo was in 1996. Western lowland gorillas are critically endangered in the wild, but are more common than their relatives, the mountain gorillas.

Western lowland gorillas live in heavy rain forests, and it’s difficult for scientists to accurately estimate how many survive in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, Gabon, Angola, and possibly the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to the zoo.

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