A baby gorilla born through emergency cesarean section almost two weeks ago at the San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park was reunited with her mother Monday after successfully recovering from a bout of pneumonia.
Zoo officials happily reported that the mother, 18-year-old Imani, from the first physical introduction, has been extremely attached to her little one, holding and constantly carrying her.
Animal staff at the zoo carefully plotted the mother/child introduction as they placed the 12-day-old gorilla on a soft hay pile and let Imani come in to physically meet her baby for the first time. Imani was very inquisitive as she examined her offspring by smelling her and then picked her up, carrying and cradling her around the bedroom area. She was so comfortable with the young gorilla, she even allowed her to cling and hold onto her back as she moseyed around.
“Initially she was just carrying the baby, she never set the baby down,” said Andrew Stallard, animal care supervisor at the Safari Park. “About three hours in, she began nursing the baby. After about a five-minute bout, the baby fell asleep, which is exactly what we were looking for, so we were really excited!”
While other members of the gorilla troop were allowed visual contact with mother and child, they could only do so through a protective mesh barrier as the introduction took place.
After Imani spent some quality bonding time with her little bundle, she did allow 5-year-old male gorilla, Frank, to pay a special visit as well. She welcomed Frank into the off-exhibit bedroom area to enjoy their company and take part in the exclusive reunion. According to zoo officials, the bond between Imani and Frank is extraordinary since she acted as a surrogate mother to him soon after he was born in 2008 at the San Diego Zoo.
Both Frank and Imani were brought to the Safari Park from the zoo just over a year ago.
Zoo officials said they will keep a close eye on the the infant as they continue to monitor her around the clock making sure her nutritional needs are met. This is the first baby born to Imani and the 17th gorilla to be birthed at the Safari Park.
The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is now home to eight gorillas, including their newest addition, who has yet to be named.
Update on Baby Gorilla Born Via C-Section Reunited with Mom