Like an active, healthy little one, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s baby gorilla is growing by leaps and bounds, now sitting and eating on her own.
Keepers said Joanne is alert and active, taking fewer naps throughout the day. She has also started sampling solid foods, mainly fruits and vegetables, now that she has about eight teeth with which to chow down.
Her favorite foods, by the way, are currently kale and grapes cut in half. She often watches her mother intently as she eats, mimicking those behaviors and picking up fruits and veggies of her own.
But, while she’s enjoying the tastiness of solids, keepers said the baby gorilla’s primary source of nutrition continues to be from nursing.
Little Joanne is also quite the roamer.
Safari Park keeper Jami Pawlowski said the gorilla is beginning to crawl away from her mother a bit, testing her limits.
"Imani always keeps her eye on her but Joanne is testing out her independence and seeing how far she can get," Pawlowski explained. “We’re seeing Joanne be more and more active.”
Keepers said Joanne shares her habitat with seven other gorillas, including 3-year-old Monroe and 6-year-old Frank. Although Imani remains very protective of her baby, the mother will sometimes let Frank hold Joanne. Monroe often tries to play with the baby, poking and peering at Joanne before running away.
Joanne was born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park on March 12 via rare emergency C-section. Two days later, she suffered a collapsed lung and had to undergo treatment. She received around-the-clock care until she made a full recovery.
Since then, she’s been growing stronger by the day, getting to know other members of the gorilla troop and sharing important bonding time with her mother.
Joanne – named in honor of Joanne Warren, the first chairwoman of the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global – was Imani’s first baby and the 17th gorilla 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.