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PRECIOUS: Gorilla mom cuddles, nurses baby for first time

Posted at 2:37 PM, Mar 25, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-25 14:37:09-04

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (WTVR) — The baby gorilla birthed during a rare Caesarian section two weeks ago at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park has been reunited with her mother.

Baby Gorilla

Imani and baby cuddle.

KSWB reports first-time mother Imani met her daughter for the first time Monday when staffers placed the 12-day-old unnamed gorilla on a soft pile of hay.

“Imani has been extremely attached, holding and constantly carrying around the young gorilla,” zoo officials said.


Imani picked up and cradled the young gorilla. The baby clung and held onto her mother’s back as the animal walked around her bedroom area.


Zoo workers placed the baby on soft pile of hay. Moments later, mom entered the enclosure.

“Initially she was just carrying the baby, she never set the baby down,” said Andrew Stallard, animal care supervisor at the San Diego Zoo 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!”

The baby gorilla was observed nursing, but staff will continue to closely monitor the infant to make sure she is getting the nutrition she needs.

Animal care staffers let other members of the zoo’s seven-gorilla troop have visual contact with Imani and the baby via a protective mesh barrier.

Tuesday morning, the zoo tweeted that the pair were still together in Imani’s off-exhibit enclosure.

The reunion comes after the baby underwent surgery for a collapsed lung.

The San Diego Zoo had several outside consultants help out during 18-year-old Imani’s emergency surgery, including specialists from UCSD Medical Center.

The baby gorilla, which weighed just over four-and-a-half pounds, was in intensive care receiving oxygen and fluids at the veterinary hospital after the procedure.

Gorilla Baby Collage“The baby showed complications and recently underwent surgery for a collapsed lung… The procedure was a success and she is breathing better on her own,” according to an update on the zoo’s Instgram page.

Video posted to the zoo’s YouTube page earlier this month showed the little girl holding a stuffed gorilla while veterinary staffers cared for the newborn. Another part of the video showed the baby decked out in a pink blanket.