Baby Gorilla Back with Troop
(Pittsburgh) (September 2013)—A huge sigh of relief could be heard throughout the Tropical Forest, as keepers watched gorilla mom Moka welcome her baby son back to her and the troop.
“We were so nervous the day that we carefully gave him back to mom,” says Roseann Giambro, gorilla keeper. “We wanted everything to go well and in the end we didn’t have anything to worry about. Moka came right over and quickly picked up her baby. She held on to him, touching and cuddling with him. It was such a great sight to experience.”
After mom and baby were reunited, the next step was to introduce him to the rest of his troop. “Moka took her baby into the same room as the other family members. They were also very excited and welcoming,” says Ms. Giambro.
Keepers and volunteers had been working up to this day for the past several months. At six weeks old, the baby gorilla was removed from his mother, after she developed mastitis and was not able to properly nurse. “We knew that it would be a 24-hour a day job to care for this little guy with the hope of once he was older he would be reintroduced to his family,” says Ms. Giambro.
Keepers worked to raise the baby as a gorilla and with as little a human imprint as possible. They mimicked the way mom would carry and groom, and taught him to take a bottle. “He is not yet eating solid foods so we still have to give him a bottle every four hours to make sure that he receives proper nourishment,” says Ms. Giambro. “We taught him to come to the mesh fence and accept a bottle from us and will continue to do this until he is eating solid foods.”
The baby is off exhibit at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. during Zoo hours so he can take his bottle.