The female gorilla born nine days ago at the
has died, zoo officials reported today.
Zoo staffers found her dead this morning, still being carried by her mother.
"We have been watching the mother and infant very closely since the (Nov. 16) birth and felt cautiously optimistic that the baby was healthy and being cared for appropriately," said Megan Ross, the zoo's vice president of animal care. "We are all surprised and very saddened by this tragic turn of events."
The mother, 16-year-old Bana, was allowed to keep the baby for several hours "to make peace with what happened," the zoo said, adding that gorillas' periods of mourning are well documented.
The cause of death is yet to be determined. A necropsy will be performed.
The Regenstein Center for African Apes will remain closed to the public today.
The infant was the first born at the zoo in six years and the 49th since the zoo's first gorilla birth in 1970.