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Rare Gorilla Twins Are Sign Of Hope For Endangered Apes

Gorillas are famed for their strength, but it was a moment of tenderness that recently delighted conservationists in Central Africa.

With only 100,000 of them left on Earth, the birth of every wild gorilla is a cause for joy, which made it doubly exciting when a proud gorilla mom was spotted carrying twins in the Dzanga-Sangha conservation area.

In January, the babies were spotted clinging to their mother, Malui, while their silverback father, Makumba, watched on protectively from afar.

"These are the first twins ever recorded in Dzanga-Sangha," said David Greer, leader of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)'s African great apes program, in a statement. "Their birth is an incredible moment for everyone who has worked so hard to habituate and conserve these gorillas."

But while Greer celebrated the twin birth - a rarity among western gorillas like Malui and Makumba - he also warned that the future of Africa's great apes is "far from secure."

"These tiny twins are a sign of success in Dzanga-Sangha," said Greer, "but gorillas continue to face serious threats from poaching, disease and habitat loss."

In 2007, western gorillas were classified as "critically endangered" by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with a possible 80 percent reduction of their population by 2046.

To help learn how you can help protect these vulnerable animals, visit the WWF's website here.