A young gorilla known as Kumina has moved to the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical gardens to be hand raised by keepers there. Kumina was born at the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical garden on August 16, 2014.
The baby needed to be hand raised as her mother did not show any signs she was caring for her. Dr. Jennifer D’Agostino, the OKC Zoo’s veterinarian said, “Ndjole” (pronounced In-jōlee), did not demonstrate any signs of maternal care toward her baby. “Ndjole was given several opportunities to bond with her baby within the first 24 hours and didn’t show any interest in her, putting the newborn’s life at risk.”
Keepers at the Cincinnati Zoo are preparing for the 12-14 weeks of round the clock care by making a special space in the gorilla exhibit, baby equipment and vests made from fake fur. They are already experienced in raising gorillas having placed “Gladys” the gorilla with a surrogate last year.
The Oklahoma City Zoo with worked with the species survival plan for this species and decided due to this experience they were the best fit for Kamina. Cincinnati’s curator of primates said, “We have an available auntie surrogate female along with a good stable family group that matches up well with Kamina’s post-surrogacy, long term management.”
He added that, “It’s a real honour for the Cincinnati Zoo to be recommended for another baby gorilla surrogacy project and to know our colleagues at other zoos and the Gorilla SSP can depend on us in this way. As with Gladys last year, surrogating Kamina here at the Cincinnati Zoo is both exciting and challenging.”
“There are a lot of moving parts to manage such a thing but luckily we have a fantastic and experienced team of managers, vets, keepers, outside consultants and human surrogates along with strong support from Zoo Director Thane Maynard. Although we’re just getting started, I’m already looking forward to the day when little Kamina gets a real gorilla mom,” explained Evans.
Before moving to Cincinnati’s Gorilla World habitat she needs to receive a clean bill of health so she doesn’t make her new family sick. This means she is spending her first few days at the zoo out the back of the nursery.
Once ready she will begin integrating with the rest of the gorilla troop. At this point she will be placed with a surrogate mum who will care for her till she is an adult.
Photo Credit: Cincinnati Zoo