The happy update on Shira the gorilla and her NEW BABY DAUGHTER!

May 29, 2017 4:32 pm Last Updated: May 29, 2017 4:32 pm

The bond between a mother and her child is a powerful one. That’s true for humans as well as gorillas. If you know the story, you are already aware that Shira, a gorilla from the Frankfurt Zoo in Germany, had lost her first two babies and made world headlines because she simply could not bring herself to let them go, literally.

The happy ending was a new beginning… meet Wela.

Photo Credit: Siggi Nobel

We are VERY happy to give you this exclusive update and happy outcome!

As is so often the case in the face of tragedy or loss, we look forward to what might possibly lie ahead that will release the burdens of our grief. On Sept. 15, 2016, just two years after the loss of her son and one year after the loss of her daughter, that relief was granted in the form of Shira’s birth to yet another daughter.

This time, there is a much happier ending – and beginning.

Meet Wela, Shira’s third born baby gorilla. We contacted the Gorilla Passion Project (GPP) for an update on how mom and baby are doing and are happy to report that they are both doing very well!

“Shira is a very good and protective mom, Wela looks healthy and is a curious and brave baby who also tries to have contact with her dad, Viatu,” reported Annie from GPP.

Siggi Nobel, who took photos of Wela and Shira, and is also a member of GPP, added, “Shira is a mom who stays with Wela mostly, finding protection and security there. She is doing very well with her group and progressing normally. They are doing great!”

“Pretty big and quite strong…”


Photo Credit: Siggi Nobel

“When a gorilla is born, that’s always a very special event. We are all very happy, the keepers, our workers, and of course myself. Every birth of a young ape is a success,” said Zoo Director Manfred Niekisch.

Niekisch noted that the newborn appeared to be “pretty big and quite strong.” The conservation staff was accurately optimistic that this little miracle would be a true gift to Shira, her family, the zoo, and the world!

Wela poses to say, “I am here and I am here to stay!”

Photo Credit: Siggi Nobel

The backstory: In 2015, Shira, then a 10-year-old gorilla, gave birth to a beautiful baby daughter at the Frankfurt Zoo in Germany. Her birth made world headlines for all of the saddest of reasons.

The birth of an animal at any zoo is always a special occasion, but part of what made this particular birth extra special was the fact that Shira had given birth to another baby just six months earlier. Tandu, her son, passed away at the age of 6 months due to a viral infection.

You can imagine the excitement when the zookeepers learned that Shira was pregnant again. Everyone was anticipating a redemptive celebration after that initial tragic death.

That celebration was short-lived, however, because Shira’s newborn daughter also died after just one week.

Frankfurt Zoo Director, professor Manfred Niekisch, made the announcement regarding the death of the newborn: “Last Thursday she was ok in the morning, but in the afternoon she suddenly and without warning died…”

At the time, zoo medical experts had no idea as to what may have caused her death.

Shira remained in devoted denial for more than a week over her losing her second baby. She could not accept the death and refused to be separated from the delicate lifeless body of her daughter.

Shira carried her baby in her arms, cuddled with her, and would even gently shake her baby to see if she could revive her. She displayed similar behavior after the loss of her son. Shira slept with her daughter on her stomach each night. Each morning, she awoke only to realize once again that her baby was not alive.

Shira simply could not bring herself to the reality that, once again, she had lost her child.

Then in September 2016, the tentatively celebratory news that Shira had given birth once again was announced to the world. And now we know Wela is strong and happy!


If you’d like to learn more about gorillas and stay up to date on efforts to preserve and protect them, join the Gorilla Passion Project on Facebook. The GPP “About” section describes the group this way:

Aside from the usual predators such as leopards and crocodiles, gorillas are also negatively affected by human activities. Currently, their natural habitat suffers fragmentation. Habitat loss in the Democratic Republic of Congo is attributed to the mining of coltan, a metallic ore, which, when refined, is used to make components for electronic devices such as cell phones and computers. Timber companies moving into the area and clear-cutting forests to make roads add to more fragmentation which is further compounded when large areas of trees are taken down. Other impacts by humans such as illegal poaching for the bushmeat trade, transmitted human disease, including Ebola hemorrhagic fever, and political unrest, are all contributing factors to the population decline of western lowland gorillas.

Video credit: Hindustan Times