Mountain gorillas are so rare that only 880 of them are left in the world. But what’s even more rare are mountain gorilla twins. According to The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, a group dedicated to motoring gorillas in Africa, until recently, only two sets of mountain gorilla twins have been known to have survived. So when researchers from the organization recently caught up with a gorilla named Isaro in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, they were elated by what they saw—the 16-year-old female was nursing twins! Naturally shy, gorillas don’t often allow researchers to get close, but Isaro couldn’t help but show off her precious twins and introduce them to the world.
Fossey Fund researchers were overjoyed when they came Isaro.
“I couldn’t believe my eyes because since I started working with the Fossey Fund in 2009, I had never experienced such an amazing event in the gorilla groups we monitor,” research assistant Didier Abavandimwe said on the group’s website.
Roughly 25 percent of mountain gorilla babies don’t make it through their first year, and researchers had previously witnessed two previous sets of twins only survive for one and nine days respectively. Still, they are optimistic this time.
“Luckily, Isaro is a successful mother who has previously raised two offspring, and so we have high hopes!” they wrote on the organization’s blog.
Typically, mountain gorillas don’t accept help from other members of their group when their babies are this young, but Isaro allows big brother, Icyororo, to take a closer look at his younger siblings.
Months have passed since the twins were born, and although researchers haven’t been able to get the same access they had that first day, they have gotten glimpses into the babies’ lives. And it looks like they are thriving!
For one thing, the twins are about the same size, which means Isaro has been nurturing her babies equally. The infants are also developing their signature coats, which include dense crowns of hair on the top of their heads.
As these two twins grow, hopefully researchers will be able to continue sharing the twins’ amazing story. We look forward to seeing them grow up and someday having babies of their own!
“The birth of the twins is a gift in many ways,” Veronica Vecellio, Gorilla Program manager at the Fossey Fund, explains. “First for the pure beauty of nature, but also to remind us how vulnerable and precious gorillas are by just looking at the dedication of Isaro, thriving in such a severe environment with two babies to take care of.”
Inspired to help the Dian Fossey Fund in its work to save these great apes? Visit their donation page here.
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