Page last updated at 18:43 GMT, Wednesday, 29 April 2009 19:43 UK

Gorillas born at wildlife parks

Nkoumou and mum Boma (photo by Dave Rolfe)
Western lowland gorillas could be extinct by 2020

Two wildlife parks in Kent are celebrating the birth of endangered western lowland gorillas.

The babies were born at Howletts and Port Lympne Wild Animal Parks, which are part of the Aspinall Foundation.

Nkoumou, a male, was 13-year-old Boma's firstborn, bringing the number of gorillas at Howletts, near Canterbury, to 51.

Mumba, a 22-year-old gorilla, gave birth to her third baby at Port Lympne, near Hythe, last weekend.

Lorna Wanless, head of the gorilla section at Howletts, said: "We are fortunate to be able to care for and work with so many of this endangered species and pleased to see that mum and baby are showing real signs of bonding."

There are thought to be no more than 100,000 Western lowland gorillas left in the wild.

A park spokesperson said they would be extinct by 2020 if decline - mainly due to deforestation, the Ebola virus and the bush meat trade - continues at the present rate.

The Aspinall Foundation's breeding scheme is part of a rescue and rehabilitation programme for captive-born gorillas in the Congo and Gabon.

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