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Baby gorilla at Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium dies

Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Moka, a western lowland gorilla at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium holds her newborn son in the gorilla enclosure at the Zoo, Thursday, February 16, 2012. Moka gave birth February 9, 2012.

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Monday, June 4, 2012, 12:00 p.m.

The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium today announced its three-and-a-half month old baby gorilla died over the weekend. "It is heartbreaking for all of us when an animal dies," said zoo president and CEO Barbara Baker. "But is even harder to accept when it is a young animal who seems to be doing well." Baker said zoo staff noticed Friday morning that the baby, a Western Lowland Gorilla, was lethargic and unable to cling properly to his mother, Moka. Staff separated Moka and the baby and took him to the Animal Care Center, where he was found to be in respiratory arrest. "His breathing was shallow and his heart rate was very low," Baker said. The animal's condition deteriorated and on Saturday he went into cardiac arrest, Baker said. Efforts to resuscitate the gorilla were unsuccessful, according to Dr. Ginger Tackle, director of animal care. A necropsy was performed, but results will not be available for several weeks. "It is very frustrating to not know what happened," Tackle said. The baby was born Feb. 9, the first gorilla born at the zoo since 2001. Western Lowland Gorillas are endangered due to habitat loss, poaching and disease.

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