Zoo officials in Calgary say that new gorilla mom Kioja and her baby are adjusting well and bonding together at the facility, about a day after the birth.

The 15-year-old Western lowland gorilla gave birth to her baby on Wednesday evening, an important addition to North America's captive population of gorillas.

“With approximately 350 western lowland gorillas in the North American captive population, every gorilla counts,” says Dr. Malu Celli, Curator, Calgary Zoo, in a release. “Wild populations are decreasing at incredible rates, with more than 80 per cent lost in just three generations, so we need to protect every one of these critically endangered animals.”

The new baby, fathered by Kakinga, the male of the zoo's troop, is the first baby born at the zoo since Yewande in 2008.

Celli says that staff at the facility have been working hard together throughout the whole pregnancy for Kioja.

"The team has been doing a lot of training with Kioja and some other members of the troop to make sure she had the best possible start. She was a bit hindered herself because she'd never seen another birth, she hadn't witnessed a baby being reared, so we didn't know how she'd take it. She's been having mothering lessons with us."

Celli said that their efforts paid off with the birth of the baby gorilla on Wednesday night.

Keepers haven't been able to get very close to the new baby so far, but that's a good sign, Celli says. "She's turning out to be a great mom because she is keeping it very close. We've seen it nurse, it's sleeping with her, the rest of the troop is very interested. She is being very atttentive to it."

“With fewer than 55 breeding recommendations granted for the captive population, this is a very important addition to our troop as much effort goes into planning for a gorilla pregnancy.”

Celli adds that staff have been at the facility watching over the group in full day shifts, always keeping an eye on the troop.

In addition to Kioja and her new baby, the troop consists of 18-year-old Zuri, 15-year-old Dossi, and 37-year-old Kakinga.

"The little one is doing fine. We don't know the sex yet, so that's the next thing to find out. We're very excited to find out if it is a little boy or little girl."

Kakinga has also been attentive to the new arrival, Celii says. "When the baby vocalizes, he jumps to action to make sure there is no danger and if any of the other gorillas are too close to Kioja, he puts himself in between her and the rest of the troop."

Celli says that the plan for the TransAlta Rainforest building depends on how the troop is feeling in regards to people. "If the troop is open to Calgary Zoo staff, we'd like to have a chance to share the joy with the gorilla care team. For the gorilla troop to begin to start seeing people, and sort of get back to normality, we would like to reopen the building after the weekend."

Officials say that habitat loss and high levels of hunting and disease are among the chief threats for Western lowland gorillas in the wild. It's estimated that there are fewer than 100,000 left in the wild.