Over the weekend, People.com published an article with a very grabby headline that read,

Shock Twist at Columbus Zoo as 'Male' Gorilla Gives Birth to Surprise Baby Girl

Naturally, I was intrigued. But, did it actually happen?

The Facts

Yes, a gorilla at the Columbus Zoo in Ohio did surprise everyone by giving birth. However, the gorilla was not a male.

As it turns out, the zoo keepers thought that this gorilla, named Sully, was a male. Sully came to the zoo in 2019, according to the above-mentioned article from People.com. When Sully's caretakers came to check on her (or, as they thought, him) last Thursday morning, they were shocked to find Sully holding a new baby.

The baby is a healthy baby girl. Both she and her mom are doing great.

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How did this happen?

Like me, you may have read this and wondered how such a mistake could have been made. But, it's something that can happen pretty easily.

Until they're eight years old, male and female gorillas are about the same size and, they don't have prominent sex organs. For example, the characteristics that easily define males, like large size, silver backs, and more, don't typically develop until they hit age 12.

Since Sully wasn't born at the Columbus Zoo and hadn't required any medical procedures or anything that would require a close examination, her caretakers made an assumption. An assumption that proved to be incorrect in the most surprising way:

Sully's new baby marks the 34th gorilla that has been born at the Columbus Zoo. Read more about the Columbus Zoo, their conservation efforts, and more here.

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