Protective mother gorilla cuddles newborn baby in heartwarming footage from Kent wildlife reserve

Harriet Brewis
PA

Adorable footage has been shared by a wildlife reserve in Kent in celebration of a special new arrival.

Viringika, a western lowland gorilla, gave birth to her first baby on January 8 at Port Lympne Hotel & Reserve in Hythe.

Western lowlands are a critically endangered subspecies, with their numbers dropping by more than 60 per cent over the last 20-25 years, according to the World Wildlife Foundation.

Viringika’s new bundle of joy takes the total number of births across Kent’s wild animal parks, Port Lympne and Howletts, to a record 147.

Viringika is so protective of her baby, staff don't even know whether it's male or female (PA)

Phil Ridges, head of the Port Lympne’s gorilla section, said: “We are absolutely delighted.

“Viringika is proving to be a great mum, she is being very protective and as yet we have not seen if this new little one is a boy or a girl”.

Over the past few years, animal conservation charity the Aspinall Foundation - which owns Port Lympne and Howletts - has bred, nurtured and released hundreds of animals from its animal parks back into the wild.

These include eight black rhinos, 12 grizzled langurs, 90 ebony langurs, 33 Javan gibbons, 11 European bison and more than 70 western lowland gorillas.