11/13/2013 12:00:00 AM

TAMPA, FL – Busch Gardens® Tampa has announced that one of the park’s western lowland gorillas, 11-year-old Pele, is expecting her first baby later this year. With a gestation period of 8 1/2 months, Pele is expected to give birth in December 2013.

This pregnancy is part of the park’s participation in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP). The mission of the SSP is to cooperatively manage specific, and typically threatened or endangered, species populations within AZA-accredited facilities. Western lowland gorillas are an endangered species.

Pele came to Busch Gardens in February 2010 from the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas. She quickly integrated into the park’s gorilla troop, and Bolingo, one of Busch Gardens’ male gorillas and the suspected sire, quickly became fond of her. Born in November 2005 at Busch Gardens, Bolingo was the first successful gorilla birth in Busch Gardens’ history.

Both Pele and Bolingo, along with the other gorillas, can be seen in Myombe Reserve. Pele will continue to be on guest view until she gives birth.

Since 2004, Busch Gardens has supported the study of western lowland gorillas being conducted in the remote region of the Nouabale-Ndoki National Park in Africa's northern Congo through the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund. Coordinated by the Wildlife Conservation Society, the study's focus on the rarely seen ecology and social behavior of the lowland gorilla is resulting in ground-breaking data on this fascinating and endangered species. 

Busch Gardens is owned and operated by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment™, a leading theme park and entertainment company that delivers personal, interactive and educational experiences that blend imagination with nature. SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment is best known for its 11 U.S. theme parks, attractions that hosted more than 24 million guests in 2012. Each of these theme parks offers a distinct entertainment experience that connects guests to the world and to one another. 

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment™ also is one of the world’s foremost zoological organizations and a worldwide leader in animal welfare, training, husbandry and veterinary care. The company collectively cares for one of the largest animal collections on the North American continent and has helped lead advances in the care of species in zoological facilities and in the conservation of wild populations. 

For more information, media contact is Travis Claytor, Busch Gardens public relations, at 813-987-5401 or Travis.Claytor@buschgardens.com.

Video & Images

Download video & images including an ultrasound (4 FILES - .jpg, .mov & .avi)

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