Staff and visitors at the London Zoo got a special Valentine's Day treat that they've shared with the public in an awwww-inducing video: Witnessing the first steps (and frequent stumbles and face-flops) of a three-month-old gorilla, the first born at the zoo in 20 years.
The 5.5-pound baby gorilla is temporarily known as "Tiny," but he won't be for long -- adult male Western lowland gorillas can max out at 400 pounds. Still, Tiny's tentative first steps are only the beginning of a long process of development; according to the Wildlife Conservation Society, young gorillas stay dependent on their mothers for up to five years.
A Close-Knit Gorilla Family
Tiny's father died before he was born, but the baby and his mother, Mjukuu, are hardly alone; in an earlier report, the Telegraph said other female gorillas at the zoo were around her during the birth and have stayed by her side. (That video, from late October, shows the furry little guy adorably snoozing on his mama's chest.)
Video: The Telegraph.
Social animals that form strong bonds, gorillas are threatened by illegal poaching, infectious diseases, and the loss of their tropical rainforest habitat in Africa. Though the discovery a few years ago of a larger-than-expected population of Western lowland gorillas in the Republic of Congo was cheering to scientists and conservationists, the animals are still classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
More On Gorillas
Rare Mountain Gorilla Twins Born in Rwanda
Mountain Gorilla Population Increases 25% in Central African National Parks
To Save Endangered Baby Mountain Gorillas, Name Them (Slideshow)
Caring For a Gentle Giant at Home and Away (Interview with a Gorilla Keeper)
Snail Farming Could Save Endangered Gorillas
Gorillas Could be Extinct in the Congo Basin by the Mid-2020s
Track Ultra Rare Mountain Gorillas Online