Baby Gorilla Hand-Reared By Zoo Staff After Being Abandoned By His Mother Gets A Surrogate Mom As Another Female Takes Him In As Her Own

Jun 01, 2021 by apost team

A baby gorilla at the Bristol Zoo Gardens in Bristol, England, finally has a new mother. The infant gorilla was personally fed and cared for by the zoo staff since August 2020, until they found a surrogate mother for the adorable animal. Sadly, the gorilla’s birth mother was unable to care for him, which is what led the zoo staff to find alternative caretakers.

While it’s important for young animals to be cared for thoroughly, usually by their own mothers, this wasn’t the case for Hasani, a Western lowland gorilla. His mother had exhibited signs of poor behavior that led the zookeepers to find someone else to fill her role. Surprisingly, their new pick also had some red flags in the past.

Hasani is still extremely small and young, so he needs someone to look after him and help him grow into an adult gorilla. Before he is able to become more independent, he needs a little help learning the ropes and bonding with other gorillas like him. The zookeepers at Bristol Zoo Gardens realized that they needed to look for someone else to help Hasani grow and flourish, so they turned to an adult gorilla that was also living at the zoo.

Hasani had been introduced to his birth mother plenty of times over the past few months, but their meetings were always unsuccessful, as his mother had some reactions that worried the staff. Thankfully, Hasani was introduced to another gorilla in March 2021, and the two got on pretty well together. It seemed like the zoo staff had finally found the right fit for the baby gorilla.

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Hasani was born at Bristol Zoo Gardens in August 2020. He is one out of eight of the Western lowland gorillas located at Bristol Zoo that are part of an international breeding program to help protect the critically endangered species, according to BBC News. Some of the zookeepers personally fed and cared for him since his mother, Kala, was unable to do so herself. According to BBC News, Kala was reintroduced to her own baby several times but struggled to care for him. Luckily for Hasani, the zoo staff never gave up on finding him a long-term caretaker and motherly figure to look after him.

Although Hasani is still quite small and young, it was not an easy task taking care of the animal. According to BBC News, hand-rearing the baby gorilla required a team of six people who worked in shifts to be with him around the clock in order to provide him the proper amount of care and attention. This work method went on for seven months, where Hasani was fed up to eight times a day every single day.

The zoo staff had tried repeatedly to reintroduce Kala to her baby gorilla, but it was unsuccessful as BBC News reported she “continued to show the worrying signs of not being able to cope.” The zookeepers needed a new plan, and they turned to 16-year-old Kera to see if she could be a good match for Hasani. Kera was introduced to Hasani, and the two instantly bonded well together, leading to her officially becoming the baby gorilla’s new mother.

Lynsey Bugg, the curator of mammals at the zoo, was extremely happy that the two gorillas clicked so well. “It is an amazing achievement,” she said. “We have taken a young gorilla that would otherwise have died and turned him around and he is back with his fellow gorillas inside of a year.”

BBC News reported that the staff watched closely and stood by, ready to jump in if needed when Kera and Hasani were formally introduced. Thankfully, the two gorillas got on pretty well from the start, and it looked like Hasani was finally going to have the motherly figure he deserved, with Kera filling the role as his surrogate mother.

Surprisingly, Kera herself had actually been unable to care for her own baby, Afia, who was delivered by a Caesarean section five years ago, according to BBC News. This made it even more incredible that she was able to form such a great connection with Hasani from the start. The other baby gorilla, Afia, was also cared for by a surrogate mother, Romina. “Although Kera had no rearing experience, she is very intelligent and we have been able to nurture her behavior,” Bugg said. “She has seen several other females rear their youngsters and so had a good foundation on which to build on.”

Hasani and Kera have been getting on extremely well since they were brought together as mother and son. According to BBC News, the baby gorilla spends every day and night with his surrogate mother and will stay close with her and he continues to grow up. After about three or four years, Hasani should find some more independence, and will most likely not need his surrogate mother as much.

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