Skip to main content

Daily introductions between mom and baby continue; zoo plans to provide hands-on care for baby gorilla for next few months

Posted by: Gigi Allianic, Communications
Photos by: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, Woodland Park Zoo

We have a little update on our gorilla Nadiri and her newborn baby. Attempts to introduce the first-time mother gorilla to her new baby continue every day. For now, the plan for the next three months will be to keep on providing hands-on care for the female gorilla infant before evaluating next steps.

The baby western lowland gorilla was born November 20 to 19-year-old Nadiri. After giving birth naturally, Nadiri did not pick up her baby and, instead, walked away. Staff immediately stepped in for the safety and welfare of the baby and to allow the new mom to rest. Because Nadiri does not have experience with motherhood, the zoo prepared for different eventualities while Nadiri was pregnant, including human intervention.

Zoo gorilla and veterinary staff are providing 24/7 care for the baby gorilla behind the scenes in the gorillas’ sleeping quarters in a den next to Nadiri. Here, the mom and the other two members in her group can see the baby, and the baby is immersed in the sights, sounds and smells of gorillas. 

Taking in the sights, sounds and smells of the other gorillas.
A tiny gorilla foot.
“The baby is strong and healthy, and has a hearty appetite,” said Harmony Frazier, Woodland Park Zoo’s senior veterinary technician and an animal infant specialist. “We bottle feed her human infant formula on demand so she’s eating every couple of hours. She’s steadily gaining weight and currently weighs 5.8 pounds, a healthy weight for a 2-week-old gorilla,” said Frazier.

The best outcome for the baby gorilla is to have her mom raise her, so, several times a day Nadiri is given access to her baby, said Martin Ramirez, Woodland Park Zoo’s mammal curator. “Nadiri consistently enters the den for each introduction session. While she still hasn’t picked up her baby, she remains next to her. When the baby cries, she sometimes touches her in a calming manner. When Nadiri is in her own den, she watches her baby and grunts contentedly,” explained Ramirez. “It isn’t strong maternal behavior yet, but we’re encouraged by these positive sessions and gestures of interest.” 

The gorilla keepers closely monitor and evaluate each introduction session. “As long as the sessions remain positive, we’ll keep moving forward with providing opportunities for Nadiri and her baby to bond. If Nadiri shows any inappropriate behaviors, we will discontinue the sessions and assess other options,” added Ramirez.

As this little baby does not yet have a name, there are plans to name her after the holidays.

We will keep you updated on these bonding developments and any news about Nadiri and her baby here on the blog. Your outstanding support and patience with news about this little one has been very meaningful to keepers and zoo staff as they provide the best possible care for this baby and her mom.

Baby gives a big yawn, it's hard work being this new!


Unknown said…
Thanks for the update!! The last picture of the baby yawning is just too cute!
Julie Jay said…
So wonderful and I love the way you're handling this situation. Many thanks to the keepers and keeper bosses who've obviously researched this type of thing and are working super hard to try and overcome the Mother's initial reluctance to handle her baby.
Anonymous said…
I m wandering if They could Give Momma a gorilla Doll with Baby scent on it! People send dolls for chimps and KoKo that they are treating
as their own babys. instead of a burlap sack!!

fitbabs said…
Thanks so much for these updates, and please keep them coming! How about a short video of baby with keepers?