Like all baby gorillas, Gladys is learning to sit, crawl, roll over and walk on all fours. But what make her antics different are the parents she is learning the tricks from. At the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, this baby gorilla is being raised by 10 human ‘moms’.
Gladys came to Cincinnati last month from the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas. She was born on Jan 29th to a first time mother who showed little interested in raising her. It was therefore left to the zoo to take care of the baby.
It was decided to move the baby gorilla to Cincinnati zoo because of its prior experience in raising gorilla babies and volunteers who have had experience being primate mothers.
At the zoo there are 10 human parents looking after Gladys and making sure she learns the natural habits of gorillas quickly. This will help her make the transition to a real gorilla family smoothly.
The human surrogates dress in black when working with her. They also wear furry vests and kneepads and make gorilla sounds to help keep Gladys comfortable and among familiar gorilla environment.
Other gorillas have also been allowed to occasionally see and touch the baby.
According to the surrogates, Gladys has started to walk on all fours
“The next step, she’ll be able to walk around by herself,” said Ron Evans, primate team leader.
She is also teething and has begun to eat cooked food like sweet potatoes and carrots.
Presently she is bottle fed five times a day.
“She’s at the age now where she really starts growing by leaps and bounds,” Evans said.
The zoo keepers feel that in another few months the baby will be big enough to have a real gorilla mother and they have short listed four females for the role.
“The gorillas have to decide who this baby’s mom is going to be,” Evans said.
Primate keeper Ashley O’Connell who just had her own baby five months ago says,
“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.”
With such a dedicated team taking care of her, this little Gorilla is surely being raised very well.