The newest member of this gorilla family is ready for his closeup in a cute photo series.
Shhhhhhh. Keep it down. Zachary is sleeping.
Baby Zachary is the fourth generation of a lowland gorilla family that lives at the zoo.
He joins his 11-year-old mother, Kamba; father, JoJo; aunt, Nora; grandmother, Koola; and great-grandmother, Binti Jua.
Zachary comes from a long line of awesome gorillas.
In 1996, his great grandmother, Binti Jua, rescued a little boy who fell 18 feet into the gorilla enclosure.
Zachary is already out greeting guests in the Tropic World habitat, but for now, he sticks close to his mother.
At the moment, Zachary uses his crazy-strong arms to hold tight to his mother's abdomen, but in a few months, he'll make the transition to riding on her back. But it won't be long before he starts exploring on his own.
Zachary is still nursing and will do so for the next three to four years. However, zookeepers will introduce small bites of solid foods to his diet in the coming months.
Conservation efforts for endangered gorillas like Zachary are critical to the success of the species.
Zachary's mom and dad were brought together by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Western Lowland Gorilla Species Survival Plan.
Species Survival Plans are programs that encourage breeding among endangered animals at different zoos to ensure a healthy, stable, self-sustaining population without risk of inbreeding within one or two zoo populations. Today, the Chicago Zoological Society says, there are about 339 western lowland gorillas residing in 48 accredited zoos across North America.
Species Survival Plans contribute to conservation efforts in the wild by providing advanced research, resources for veterinary issues, and more. That's great news for the lowland gorilla, whose population is in decline due to commercial hunting, the illegal pet trade, habitat destruction from the logging industry, and even outbreaks like the Ebola virus.
So, welcome, Zachary. We're glad you're here.
With the care and support you receive at the Brookfield Zoo, you'll be a walking, grunting example of why conservation is so important. And when you're a bit older, you'll even lend a hand to restoring the lowland gorilla population. It's a tall order, but you can do it.
Just as soon as you're done with your nap.