Kweli is a part of the gorilla family that includes Silverback Mshindi, female Paki and also included Kindi’s mother Mia Moja before she passed away. Kweli, 32, has been a successful surrogate mother in the past as well as mothering three sons. You can see her son, Kicho, in Gorilla Forest along with his group including Bengati, Cecil and Jelani.
Originally, Paki and Kweli were both surrogate options for Kindi. Paki, the dominant female, showed the most interest early on. Assistant Louisville Zoo Mammal Curator Jill Katka explained that while Paki really liked Kindi and was good with Kindi, she wasn’t as attentive as keepers would have liked and seemed to prefer an aunt role. Keepers implemented plan B and Kweli was given the opportunity to surrogate Kindi. She immediately stepped up to the task.
“When Kweli was first entered Kindi’s space, she walked over to her and scooped her right up. She held her like it was the most natural thing ever,” Jill recalled. All of the preparations made until that point came to fruition. Kindi was almost immediately backriding with Kweli and — thanks to her keepers’ furry vest —was prepared to hang on tight.
“Everybody just breathed a big sigh of relief. You would never know Kindi wasn’t raised by a gorilla at this point because everything she’s doing is perfect,” said Jill. “She’s really found her mom and we’re just ecstatic about it.”
The two of them made their public and media debut last week. Please note that while you may get a glimpse of Kweli and Kindi in Gorilla Forest from time to time, they are still in the process of bonding and acclimating to a new routine alongside neighboring Mshindi and Paki. This is still a dynamic process and Kindi and Kweli do NOT have regular exhibit hours at this time.
However, you can still follow all of Kindi’s adventures through our online scrapbook, “Kindi’s Journey” along with any schedule updates for viewing Kindi.