Day 18: Just like a newborn going home from the hospital, our infant gorilla headed home to Gorilla Forest earlier this week. She made the big move late Tuesday afternoon (day 15). With this move, her acclimation begins.
As with all of our animals, we let them cue us on when they are ready to take each step. This is her process — and so we do everything possible to support her process on her time.
On that note: Our infant girl now has a room with a view … of gorillas!
Her new digs enable her to hear, smell and see other gorillas. The Zoo’s maintenance staff installed what we call a “howdy” door into her new bedroom. This allows her to see the other gorillas and for them to visit with her through the steel mesh.
The nine other adult gorillas at Gorilla Forest have now all visited her through the “howdy” door. On a recent night, the bachelor group including Cecil, Kicho, Bengati and Jelani all took turns coming to the door to check her out. Jelani kept returning for visits and stayed with her the longest. Typical of Jelani, he also wanted to see the video we were recording of the infant (featured on this page). If you recall, Jelani is our gorilla that went viral because of his interest in photos and video on guests’ phones.
Our infant girl continues to thrive, but Senior Veterinarian Dr. Zoli Gyimesi says we aren’t out of the woods yet. Gorilla care staff continue to stay with her 24 hours a day. Their surroundings now include a mattress so that they, just like mom, can lay down and mimic rest with infant. The goal is for care staff to do everything with her that mom Mia Moja would have done. As she gets stronger this will eventually include moving around with her on their backs.
Bottle feedings still occur every two hours with naps in between. Her weight is stable and she’s eating like a champ.
We know you are anxious to meet our new infant gorilla — and we cannot wait to give you that opportunity. However, we are doing everything on her timeline, when she is ready for each step. We appreciate your patience, your concern and your interest during this time! Check back again soon for more updates.