San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s Baby Gorilla Together with Mother

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Gorillas Imani and babyA baby gorilla at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park was physically introduced to her mother, Imani, for the first time this morning. The baby was born at the Safari Park on March 12 after an emergency C-section was needed. Since the physical introduction occurred, Imani has been extremely attached to her infant, holding and constantly carrying around the young gorilla.

Animal care staff placed the 12-day-old gorilla on a soft hay pile and then let Imani come in to physically meet her daughter for the first time. Imani examined the young gorilla by smelling her and then picked her up, carrying and cradling her around the bedroom area, even letting the baby cling and hold onto her back as she walked around. Animal care staff let other members of the gorilla troop have visual contact with Imani and the baby through a protective mesh barrier while the introductions occurred.

Animal care staff let Imani spend some time alone bonding with her baby and then let 5-year-old male gorilla Frank come into the off-exhibit bedroom area to be with Imani and the baby as well. Imani has a special bond with Frank, as she served as a surrogate mother to him after he was born at the San Diego Zoo in 2008. Both Imani and Frank came to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park from the San Diego Zoo in January 2013.

“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. This is the first baby for Imani and the 17th gorilla to be born at the Safari Park. The Safari Park is home to eight gorillas, including the new baby.