A 10-day-old baby gorilla born via emergency C-section at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park got her first glimpse of her mother Friday after a long, busy week of newborn follow-up treatment and around-the-clock care.
In her first time being released from the veterinary hospital, the tiny gorilla was given a visual introduction to her mother, Imani, and other members of the gorilla troop. According to zookeepers, this is the first of many steps that must occur before animal care specialists can physically re-introduce the baby gorilla to the other gorillas at Safari Park.
During the mother-daughter moment, a zookeeper held the baby gorilla up to a cage while Imani looked at her baby (see photo below).
For now, keepers are staying close to the baby gorilla and providing constant care to the newborn in a special bedroom area near the gorilla habitat. Other members of the gorilla troop can see the baby through a protective barrier and start to familiarize themselves with her.
Senior keeper Matt Gelvin said Friday’s introductions went well, and the gorillas seemed happy to see the baby.
“Everyone is very excited to see the baby, very curious,” he said.
Gelvin also said the veterinary staff is feeling confident in the baby gorilla’s health, enough so that she was released from the hospital.
Following her very rare C-section birth, the baby gorilla underwent surgery for a collapsed lung. The procedure was successful and she was kept in the hospital under 24-7 monitoring.
Then, early this week, she was diagnosed and treated for pneumonia.
On Wednesday, finally strong enough to breathe on her own, the furry baby took her first bottle, gulping down the formula fed to her by veterinary staff members at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
Keepers are hopeful that the little one will continue making progress.
Meanwhile, the baby gorilla’s mother is back in her habitat, recovering from the C-section, eating and doing well.
This is Imani’s first baby and the 17th to be born at Safari Park. The facility currently houses eight gorillas. Two male gorillas in the troop, Monroe and Frank, were also born in San Diego in 2011 and 2008, respectively.