Berlin - Tilla the five-month-old gorilla took her first steps on Friday. According to the Berlin Zoo, she cautiously explored her surroundings. Since her birth in February 2021, the baby gorilla hasn't ventured out of the vicinity of her mother Bibi - until now. Gorilla tots spend most of their time close to their mothers - either clinging to their bellies or backs. As soon as Tilla moved more than one metre away from her mother, Bibi took her back, the zoo said.

"It was very important to us that Tilla is cared for exclusively by members of her own species," explains Zoo Director Andreas Knieriem.

"Fortunately, Bibi showed the right instincts and took excellent care of her offspring right from the start."  The mother-daughter relationship will have to remain strong for years. Gorillas aren't weaned from mother's milk until four years of age, at the earliest.

Gorillas live in troops of females and one male (know as a silverback). The species is one of the heaviest apes in the great ape family, and are threatened with extinction by habitat destruction and illegal hunting, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. According to estimates, the total number of western lowland gorillas declined by a fifth from 2005 to 2013.

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