Tiny the gorilla takes first steps
Published 14/02/2011 | 14:47
A baby gorilla dubbed Tiny has been taking his first steps at his home in London Zoo.
Delighted keepers captured the moment the three-month-old left his mother's side for the first time to explore the zoo's Gorilla Kingdom.
The youngster had been clinging to his mother, 12-year-old Mjukuu, since his birth on October 26, last year, but was urged on by her as he stumbled and crawled around the enclosure.
Under the watchful eyes of 'aunty' gorillas Zaire, 36, and Effie, 17, Tiny made his way back to his mum, only to be gently pushed away and encouraged to wander.
Gorilla keeper Daniel Simmonds said: "All of Tiny's keepers were there to see and to photograph his first steps - it was a very special moment for all of us here in Gorilla Kingdom.
"Tiny is also getting his first teeth through at the moment; however he still has a long way to go before he becomes a 25-stone silverback gorilla."
Keepers are yet to decide on a permanent name for one-foot tall Tiny, who will eventually grow to become an adult Western lowland gorilla.
Western lowland gorillas are classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and are threatened by illegal hunting, disease, habitat loss and degradation.
The gorillas are found in the tropical rainforests of Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. They are herbivores and feed on leaves, nuts and branches.
The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) was founded in 1826 to aid the conservation of animals and their habitats.