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Friday, March 22, 2013

Gorilla Twins

Cuddliest twins in the jungle: Young gorillas get a hug from Mum after a busy day exploring the forest

  • Mountain gorilla Kabatwa went forest walking with her five-month-old twins
  • Isango and Isangano are fifth set of gorilla twins born in Rwanda in 40 years
Twin babies might be hard work for their exhausted mothers – but all that effort is worth every second when it's time for a cuddle.
These delightful pictures show Kabatwa, the proud mother, drawing her youngsters to her during a Rwandan rainforest downpour - less 'Gorillas in the Mist' than gorillas in the deluge.
With fewer than 900 mountain gorillas left in the wild, the birth of twins is particularly exciting for conservationists as well as for their mother.

Help, Mum, it's starting to rain: Her hair matted by the deluge, Kabatwa her long comforting arms around her boys. It's been an exciting day but soon it will be time for bed
Help, Mum, it's starting to rain: Her hair matted by the deluge, Kabatwa her long comforting arms around her boys. It's been an exciting day but soon it will be time for bed
Let's go exploring: Hand-in-hand, Isango and Isangano discover the delights of their forest home
Let's go exploring: Hand-in-hand, Isango and Isangano discover the delights of their forest home
Mountain gorillas have babies only every four or five years and twins are extremely rare. This pair are only the fifth set recorded in Rwanda in 40 years.
They are called Isango (which means 'Appointment') and Isangano (which means 'Crossroad') -  the Rwandans favour what we would think of as unusual names for gorillas - there are others called 'Word', 'Known', 'Advisor' and 'Greetings'.
Isango and Isangano – pictured here at five months – were born in 2011. The family belong to a group of nine gorillas known as the 'Hirwa' ('lucky one') group, living in the Parc National des Volcans (Volcanoes Park), Rwanda.

Gorilla mothers invest huge amounts of time and love in their offspring. The babies are born helpless, with their eyes tightly shut.
For the first three to four months, they cling to their mother's chest 24 hours a day while she spends long periods stroking, touching and kissing them.
After four months, youngsters are able to sit up and to stand with a helping hand. Soon afterwards they begin to crawl and start to explore the forest floor – and the other members of the group.
When these pictures were taken, the twins were just starting to become more independent.
Hold on tight: The big wide world can be a scary place for these brothers
Hold on tight: The big wide world can be a scary place for these brothers
They were old enough to cadge piggy-back rides from Mum and to enjoy playing with other babies or even adults.
Mountain gorillas – who are shaggier than their lowland cousins - live in family groups of up to 30, with typical groups containing 11.
They are led by a dominant male silverback, who is fiercely protective of any babies. Any member of the group will defend the youngsters if they are attacked or threatened.

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