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Bristol zookeepers hand-rear baby gorilla unable to feed from his mother

Steven Morris
·2-min read

An infant western lowland gorilla is being given round-the-clock care by keepers after his mother found looking after him too challenging.

The gorilla was not getting enough milk from his mother, Kala, to survive so a team of experienced keepers at Bristol Zoo Gardens is looking after him and bottle feeding him day and night.

During the day, the baby gorilla is being cared for in the gorilla house to allow opportunities for Kala and the other gorillas to see him, smell him and be near him, in the hope that he will continue to be accepted as a familiar member of the group.

At night the infant is being looked after by keepers living onsite in zoo accommodation.

The baby is two months old and was delivered naturally but keepers felt they had to step in because he was not feeding well.

Lynsey Bugg, mammals curator at the zoo, said: “Hand-rearing any animal is not a decision we take lightly as our preference is always for an animal to be reared naturally by its own mother.

“Sadly this doesn’t always happen and in this instance we decided that it was in the baby gorilla’s best interests for us to hand-rear him to ensure he had the best chance of survival.”

Bugg said keepers would do their best to treat him like a mother gorilla would, expecting him to hold on tight to them and making gorilla vocalisations to make reintroduction into the group as easy for him as possible.

She added: “It’s really important for him that he remains a familiar member of the group, as well as being used to all the sounds, sights and smells of the gorillas.”

While the gorilla house is open as normal, the baby gorilla is being kept away from public view.

The zoo is inviting people to help choose his name from a shortlist by taking part in a Facebook poll.