Baby gorilla thrives with human surrogates

CINCINNATI — A baby gorilla being raised temporarily by human surrogate parents is doing well — learning to roll over, sit up and getting ready to walk on all fours.

Cincinnati Zoo &Botanical Garden primate specialists say “Gladys” is in good health, developing and growing quickly with loving care from 10 humans imitating a gorilla mom’s behavior.

This week she began supporting herself on all fours.

“The next step, she’ll be able to walk around by herself,” said Ron Evans, primate team leader.

Gladys also is teething and has begun eating some cooked foods, such as sweet potatoes and carrots, besides being bottle-fed five times a day.

“She’s at the age now where she really starts growing by leaps and bounds,” Evans said.

She came to Cincinnati last month from Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas, after she was born there Jan. 29 to a first-time mother who showed little maternal instinct. It was decided to move her to Cincinnati’s zoo because of its extensive experience in raising gorilla babies and its availability of experienced gorilla mothers.

Human surrogates dress in black, wear furry vests and kneepads and make gorilla sounds to help prepare Gladys for the transition to a real gorilla family. They have been showing her to other gorillas and letting them touch her.

The Cincinnati Enquirer (http://cin.ci/WYwKZK ) reports that zoo specialists think she will be ready within a few months, and there are four potential adoptive moms among their gorillas.

“The gorillas have to decide who this baby’s mom is going to be,” Evans said.

“That will be the day that all this hard work pays off,” said primate keeper Ashley O’Connell, crawling around with the 9-pound gorilla riding on her back.

O’Connell just had her own first child five months ago.

“I feel like I’m the mother of two right now,” she said. “If I have to be away from my own child, this is where I want to be.”

———

Information from: The Cincinnati Enquirer, http://www.enquirer.com

More in Local News

Bicycle tour raises money for dialysis patients

Volunteers also shared health information and put together care packages for homeless women.

Elderly couple escape serious injuries in crash with train

The driver drove down tracks instead of a road, hitting a slow-moving train near Stanwood.

Expect river levels to keep rising, though sun is on the way

Some could crest above minor and moderate flood levels.

Arrests made in robbery-turned fatal Everett shooting

A man, 24, and woman, 18, were found at a hotel in Seattle.

Boeing reaches out to schools

Company employees helped Everett students at recent reading and Manufacturing Day events.

5-vehicle collision sends school bus into ditch; no injuries

No students were hurt when a school bus crashed into… Continue reading

Fire crew returns early from wildfires in Northern California

Four Everett firefighters returned from battling California wildfires late Thursday… Continue reading

Theft lands former insurance salesman 50 days in jail

A former insurance salesman is expected to report to jail… Continue reading

Pair of intrepid musicians climb N. Cascades summits to play

Rose Freeman and Anastasia Allison pack their instruments up mountains for high-altitude recitals.

Most Read