The San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s baby gorilla, Joanne, is learning to crawl and can be seen confidently sitting and eating by herself. The now five-month-old gorilla usually rides on mother Imani’s back, but when Imani pauses or stops to forage, baby Joanne climbs off and spends time sitting and crawling around the nearby area.
Animal care staff report that Joanne is much more active now that she is a little older. She is taking fewer naps throughout the day and has started sampling solid foods. Joanne is now estimated to have eight teeth, enough to help her chew fruits and veggies such as her favorites, kale and grapes cut in half. While her primary source of nutrition is still from nursing, the growing gorilla is curious of any food items that her mother is eating and she watches as Imani forages, mimicking those behaviors by picking up fruits and veggies on her own.
“We’ve seen Joanne crawl away from Imani a little bit while she’s sitting on exhibit,” Jami Pawlowski, keeper at the Safari Park, said. “Imani always keeps her eye on her but Joanne is testing out her independence and seeing how far she can get.”
The young gorilla shares her habitat with seven other gorillas, two of which are curious youngsters, 3-year-old Monroe and 6-year-old Frank. Keepers say that the young males are eager to interact with the baby and even though the mother is very protective of her baby, she sometimes lets Frank briefly hold her. Monroe plays a more mischievous role, poking and peering at the mother and baby before quickly running away.
Joanne, named in honor of Joanne Warren, the first chairwoman of the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global, was born at the Safari Park on March 12 after a rare emergency C-section was needed.
Photo taken on August 29, 2014, by Tammy Spratt, San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
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