Gorilla mascot of Flanders Meeting & Convention Centre Antwerp becomes a father

Matadi, the silverback gorilla who is the face of Flanders Meeting & Convention Centre Antwerp (FMCCA), has become a father.

With only 90,000 western lowland gorillas left in nature, Matadi’s home at Antwerp Zoo plays an important role in the breeding program for the endangered species.

The birth of the baby gorilla happened at night, in the middle of the gorilla pack. FMCCA told M&IT that the other gorillas were extremely curious but stayed incredibly calm. The mother, Mayani, is fulfilling her new role well, while Matadi does not leave her side.

A spokesperson from FMCCA said that the sex of the baby gorilla is yet to be established as Mayani is keeping her child very near to her at all times.

Caregiver Julie Vanassche told M&IT: ” On Tuesday morning we arrived and Mayani came to greet us. Then I saw a tiny little hand… I couldn’t believe my eyes!

“The baby was born at night in the group. Mother Mayani surprised us a little, as we did not expect the baby until Mid December!

“The baby is doing fine. She is being breastfed. The other gorillas are very calm and curious. The father is very protective of the mother and baby. The first signs are very promising.”

Matadi, the silverback gorilla became the face of FMCCA during the Room with a ZOO campaign, which went on to win Best Marketing Award at ICCA 2017.

Soft toys of Matadi are handed out at conventions by teams from FMCCA and the stuffed animal counterpart of Matadi  travels the world,  joining the FMCCA teams at IBTM, AIPC and ECM  His journey is available for all to follow on Twitter.

Every penny spent at A Room with a ZOO goes directly to nature conservation programmes worldwide. The profits from the first congress after the first anniversary of A Room with a ZOO were paid to Congo’s Virunga National Park where Belgian Prince, Emmanuel de Merode puts his life on the line to protect gorilla’s – the brothers and sisters of Matadi.

Another programme supported by A Room with a ZOO is the Grands Singes Project. The Centre for Research and Conservation of the Antwerp ZOO, stationed in the south-west of Cameroon, has been doing scientific research there for more than 15 years.

Illegal hunting is the biggest threat to the survival of wild chimpanzees and gorillas in this region.