Baby Gorilla Hand Raised



(Pittsburgh) (May 2013)—The newest member of the Zoo’s Western lowland gorilla troop is receiving personal treatment and attention at our Animal Care Center after keepers and veterinary staff noticed that he was not vocal or moving in the manner that would be expected at this age. Staff made the decision to remove him from his mother’s care.

“Obviously, the best option is for the mother to care for the baby,” says Dr. Barbara Baker, President and CEO of the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, “But when keepers noticed that Moka’s baby was not nursing, they consulted with the veterinary staff and made the decision to remove the mother and baby for an examination.”

They immobilized Moka and moved the baby to the Animal Care Center, where he was examined. “The baby was mildly dehydrated, so we began to administer fluids and give him formula,” said Dr. Ginger Takle, Director of Animal Care. “He is doing better each day but we continue to monitor his progress.”

While Moka was under anesthesia, the veterinary staff also examined her. “We found that she was suffering from mastitis—inflammation of her mammary glands,” said Dr. Takle. “The inflammation prevented Moka from producing an adequate supply of nutrition for the baby.” Moka is currently being treated with antibiotics and responding well to her medications.

For now, the baby gorilla will remain at the Animal Care Center for 24 hour care. But so he is able to bond with this family, keepers walk him over to the Tropical Forest to visit. They sit in a room near the gorillas so everyone can see each other. The baby is also spending time in the indoor exhibit at the Tropical Forest while the other gorillas are outside. Inside he can familiarize himself with their scent and he has the opportunity to move about safely.  Once he begins eating solid food, the reintroduction to his family will begin.



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