Thursday, December 20, 2012

Getting Baby Ready to Nurse

Gorilla Mom Jamani is forever twisting herself to grab hold of her boy Bomassa and reposition him. It is just astounding that such a small baby is able to grab on to the fur of a moving mom and trust his own strength and agility in order to stay put while she is roaming around on all fours, or while she rights herself to stand up tall. The boys Apollo and Bomassa have been experts at this clinging since very soon after birth.  In this photo, Jamani is reaching for Bomassa in order to carry him in her arms, presumably so that he can help himself to a  nice warm meal of milk.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Introducing Olympia Gorilla

Olympia Gorilla has not always lived at the NC Zoo.  She came from Zoo Atlanta, where she was born in 1996.  It was important to move her to NC in order to complete a part of the Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP) so that she could mate with Nkosi and give birth to that adorable little bundle we now know as Apollo. But how was this transfer and introduction accomplished? Believe it or not, gorillas sometimes come by UPS. Yes, there is an animal shipping service. Who knew?

No matter how a new animal arrives at the zoo, the first step is quarantine.  When she arrived in August of 2011, Olympia was kept separate  just in case she might have been carrying any communicable disease.  After an appropriate length of time, she was given visual access to the other gorillas, and only later, was Olympia allowed to mingle with the other females, Acacia and Jamani. Eventually as per zoo protocol, the male is added into the mix, in this case Nkosi, Asheboro's silverback.  All steps went well, everyone appeared to be getting along, and now we can see all the gorillas roaming the exhibit area together.  Here is a video showing Olympia exploring the Forest Glade for the very first time. Interestingly, the zookeeper in video points out that Olympia seemed to be Nkosi's favorite at the time. Even now, Nkosi will often go to Olympia and put his big arms around her and give her a sweet hug chock full of gorilla affection.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Gorilla Family

Nkosi the Silverback looks over her shoulder as Jamani holds Bomassa. For some reason, Bomassa spent most of the day inverted, being held upside down by his mom, or hanging upside down from her abdomen as she moved about the Forest Glade on all fours. Our faithful readers will know that there are more in the family, Olympia and her son Apollo, and Acacia, who has gone off birth control and could be carrying a little gorilla surprise at this very moment.

What happens when the boys get older? They will reach a point in maturity where they will no longer be able to get along with their dad. At this point, for gorillas in the wild, an arrangement must be made. Some of the young sons will transfer. They will just wander off on their own one day, and either join another troop, or find a lone female and start a troop of their own. Or there could be a battle for control of the troop; sometimes it is the eldest member who goes off into the forest after being fought off by the strongest of the sons.

What will happen at the NC Zoo? The boys will be transferred to another zoo, at the age of somewhere around six to eight years old. Or another possibility is that a new enclosure could be designed and built right here in NC, and readied to house a bachelor troop.  Male gorillas can get along okay if there are not females present!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Gorillas Sure Can Climb

North Carolina zoo gorillas are excellent climbers
Pictured below, we see Nkosi at the top of the climbing structure in the Forest Glade. He climbs up there frequently. Sometimes he first takes up quite a  big pile of straw and smooths it out and then makes himself a nice little nest to hang out in for an hour or more after one of his meals. This nesting behavior is very typical of Western Lowland Gorillas living in the wild as well, although they don't always build the nests up off the forest floor. The troop will spend their days roaming, searching for good feeding spots and after they have dined, each of the members will make a little nest in which to have a rest before moving on to the next lush area full of appealing vegetation.

You won't often see the female gorillas climbing that structure, but indeed they are able. As a matter of fact, Acacia, the eldest and smallest of the gorilla ladies, once picked up a fallen branch and laid it against the viewing glass and then proceeded to climb right up to the very top of the glass in such a way that it appeared she might actually be about to escape.  Someone caught this on camera. It's must see video! Do click through and take a look.
Apollo keeps warm and safe by riding Olympia, as his dad, Nkosi, is perched on the tower

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Apollo, Youngest Gorilla at the North Carolina Zoo

In November, when this picture was taken,  Apollo was about two and a half months old.  Most of the time on that day, he was firmly attached to his mother Olympia. Gorilla moms hold their babies much of the time, but when they need a break or when it is time to move to the next feeding spot, they will gingerly lift the baby overhead and let the baby settle in to a comfortable spot where they can hang on to mom's fur using all four paws. On this day, Olympia was happy to have Apollo on the ground right next to her lap, where he lay unattached for a few minutes at a time. He's not ready to sit yet, but that will come soon enough and you'll be the first to know about it when it happens!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Gorilla Size and Stature

Nkosi sits to the right of Olympia as she nurses Apollo
Gorillas amble around mainly on all fours, but they can stand upright to walk short distances. When Nkosi, head honcho at the Forest Glade exhibit at the North Carolina Zoo stands, he's only just a little taller than the average human male. We think of gorillas as being large, not because of height, but because of the breadth of their chests, the heft of their limbs and the volume of their heads. Of course the male gorilla has a particularly massive head, topped off by the famous sagittal crest, that bony line extending from the brow backward. But all adult gorillas have arms and legs much more substantial than the average human counterparts. Even the fingers of the females are huge. It is hard to know how those moms can so tenderly pick up the delicate arms and legs of their babies, having only their jumbo fingers to work with. But they do. Gorillas, regardless of their colossal body parts, are big sweeties.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Who's Who at the Zoo?

The Gorilla Troop at the Forest Glade
In the wild, there can be up to some thirty gorillas living in a troop, but here at the Forest Glade enclosure at the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro, there are currently six:

  • Nkosi-Adult Male (The Silverback)
  • Acacia-Adult Female 
  • Olympia-Adult Female and mother
  • Jamani-Adult Female and mother 
  • Bomassa-Baby boy, son of Nkosi and Jamani
  • Apollo-Baby boy, son of Nkosi and Olympia

Olympia sits on the right holding Apollo, and Jamani stands on the left, with Bomassa secure on her furry back.  It would be difficult to get a picture of all the gorillas at one time, but the moms hang out pretty close to each other quite often, so that's an easy shot. When are you going for a visit? Bring your camera! These animals are pretty photogenic.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Silverback is the Boss

The boss gorilla at the NC Zoo  is a sweet dad

Nkosi is totally in charge of his troop, which consists now of  three females and two young babies. He always looking out for the members of the troop; volunteers tell me that when Olympia starts to get sticky fingers,  he comes over and beats his chest, at which point she gets in line pretty quick and takes her hands off Baby Bomassa. That's a scary sound, that chest beating, but I've never personally seen Nkosi be aggressive. As a matter of fact, the last time I visited, Nkosi headed over to Olympia and sat down right in front of her, tenderly encircling her with his massive furry arms. Olympia had little Apollo clinging to her back at the time; Nkosi spent the next fifteen minutes or so nuzzling that tiny son of his with his nose.

That all happened on the same day when I had scared Nkosi by accident. No one was at the window when I arrived. I had approached very quickly, eager to see the troop once again. Nick, as they call him, looked at me and jumped when I suddenly appeared! Next time, of course,  I will enter more gingerly. Poor guy, I did not mean to scare the biggest gorilla in the zoo. That magnificent silverback has a lovely disposition though, and calmed down immediately when he took stock of the fact that it was just me, a friendly visitor. Gorillas, big and muscular though they are, seem to be more bark than bite. The leader of a gorilla troop will most definitely charge, attack, and bite when he feels his troop is threatened, but by and large a silverback is a peaceful vegetarian,  just like the rest of the gorillas.
Nkosi sauntering along next to Olympia, Baby Apollo on her back
This photo and others available for purchase at the ZooBabyPrints Gallery.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thankful for the Simple Toys

A burlap bag is an excellent toy

We all know the story. You can spend big money on the latest toys, but the kids are going to go for the empty cardboard box every time. Same is true for gorillas. They are happy with very simple playthings. Olympia the mother gorilla, holding her baby boy Apollo,  is seated next to an empty burlap bag. He's a little too young to play very much yet, but these bags are plenty popular at the Forest Glade exhibit in the North Carolina Zoo.
Seventeen year old Acacia (the eldest female in the group) was hugging one for awhile during part of my recent visit. And three month old Bomassa was investigating another burlap bag by pushing it around a little with his nose.  Each day, zoo personnel bring out a dozen or so toys, and scatter them around for the gorillas to find. Some days they bring out about a dozen burlap bags. Other days they put out a bunch of big rubber rings which the gorillas like to pick up and wear like a necklace. Whatever the toy, it is fun to watch what the gorillas do with them.  Maybe Baby Bomassa Gorilla will talk about other toys one day on his Twitter.

Olympia and Apollo in the Forest Glade

Monday, November 19, 2012

How Can You Tell Twins Apart?

Same Father, Different Mothers
Bomassa and Apollo are not twins, they're half-brothers. Yet, it is next to impossible to tell them apart at this stage, when they are still only very small. Do both of the pics on this page show Bomassa? Are they both Apollo? Or is there one pic of each? I am pretty sure they are both Bomassa! No, maybe that's Apollo in both. No wait, it's Bomassa, it has to be.

Actually, I do know that the photo above is Bomassa. And how do I know this? Because Bomassa is securely attached to his mother Jamani's back, and I could see her face clearly before I cropped the photo.  Apollo is always being held by or tightly holding onto his mother Olympia.  And Jamani is always holding or otherwise attached to her dearie, Bomassa. Well except for that one incident a few pages back in the blog.  As for the photo below, I have no way of knowing. Does that look like Bomassa to you? I think it might be. But no, surely this one is Apollo, right? Oh never mind, don't ask me, I seriously don't know. 

Researchers are able to tell gorillas apart by their noses. A gorilla nose print is just as distinctive as a person's fingerprints. The shape and the wrinkles of each nose are unique. Maybe as the boys grow it will be easier to tell them apart. I hope so, because I am really looking forward to getting plenty of pics when they start to romp around  with each other, and I want to be able to tell you which is which!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Taking Refuge in Mama's Arms

Cuddling with Mama

The comfort of mother
At about three months of age, the boys are still grabbing onto their moms most of the time. I was not able to visit for a couple of weeks, and when I finally got back, I noticed little change in Bomassa, but Apollo had grown quite a bit and his mom Olympia was more willing to show him. In the past, she has almost always kept her back to the viewing window. Just as if she wanted to help him keep his privacy.

But this time I was able to get quite a few good shots of the youngest member of the troop at the Forest Glade.  Here we see Apollo with his two little arms wrapped around Olympia's hefty arm. Can you see his little fist grabbing onto the fur on the upper right? Total sweetheart!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Separating from Mama

Baby gorilla Bomassa pulls away from his mother.
Would you look at this?? This is momentous!  Bomassa, who was born on August 4, is now getting old enough  to pull away from his mother just a little. In this photo, taken on November 5, he was rocking back and forth on all fours, almost as if getting ready to crawl. The toy of the day was burlap bags, and Bomassa kept nosing up to that bag you see in the front,  and investigating it with his mouth. Jamani is happy to let him lie on the ground for a minute or two now. I saw her let him lie there while she went 6 or 8 feet away.  Just before this photo was taken, she stepped away to pick up a pile of straw, then laid the straw out, and proceeded to lie in the straw next to Bomassa. Exciting times at the Forest Glade!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Gorillas in Communication

Gorilla moms making up? I took this picture one day shortly after Olympia was grabbing the arm of Bomassa. Olympia once took Bomassa and kept him for a full five days before zoo personnel retrieved him and returned him to his mother Jamani (right). It very much looked to me as though Olympia was trying to take that baby back again when she grabbed that arm. Jamani  at that point made quick work of putting up her own arm and batting down Olympia's.

Animal Reconciliation?
So what is going on in the photo taken just a few minutes after the rebuff? Is Olympia trying to reconcile with Jamani? The moms stood like this for quite awhile and appeared  perhaps to be rubbing each other with their heads. A long time zoo volunteer on duty that day told me he wished he could hear their sounds. Though the entire top of the enclosure is open to the elements, it is surrounded by stone walls and triple glass plexiglass windows. As a result, visitors are unable to hear the grunting and low groans and growls those gorillas make inside. Those noises give very strong clues as to what a gorilla might be feeling inside.

Monday, November 5, 2012

What Baby Gorillas Eat

Jamani munches on browse as Bomassa practices grasping
Baby gorilla is hungry! Here we see young Bomassa reaching for some food, but he won't be ready to eat those leaves for a few months yet. Half brother gorilla boys Apollo and Bomassa are likely to nurse for some three or four years, and when they do start eating solid foods, they will probably begin by nibbling at some grasses.  The gorilla diets in the North Carolina Zoo are strictly managed in hopes of reducing cardiac problems.

What do gorillas eat? These vegetarian apes eat some forty to fifty pounds of food per day, when full grown. They eat browse, which are branches lain about the enclosure, plenty of greens such as lettuce, and they also dine on  bell peppers and some other vegetables. I think I saw a cucumber in there once.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Not All Baby Gorillas Grow Up

Bomassa rides on Jamani, right,  Apollo rides Olympia
Some baby gorillas never get the chance to grow into healthy adults. Even in the apparent safety of  a secure zoo enclosure,  gorilla babies face many threats. This year the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium lost a four-month old gorilla for unknown reasons. He simply became lethargic in his mother's arms. In a cruel twist of tragedy, the five year old much adored gorilla Tatu from the Prague zoo accidentally hung himself on a climbing structure this past July. The younger the gorilla, the more likely it is that problems will develop. Chicago's Lincoln Zoo saw the loss of a nine day old gorilla due to head injuries of unknown origin.

NC Zoo Gorilla Babies Thriving. Other than some continued moments of maternal jealousy,  Bomassa  and younger half -brother Apollo seem to be doing very well, nursing regularly and latching onto the furry backs of their mothers all under the watchful eye of their father, the silverback Nkosi.  When are you going out to see them ?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Acacia Goes off Birth Control

Acacia the gorilla might get pregnant this year.

Acacia is the eldest of the three female gorillas living at the North Carolina Zoo.   In the past, she has not been designated for breeding because she has a very well-connected family tree.  She is one of many children of the very prolific Tatu, who himself has more than a few siblings sired by Jambo. Acacia is therefore related in one way or another, to quite a few gorillas in captivity.

Who decides when a captive gorilla will breed? 

The transer and the breeding of captive gorillas are strictly overseen by  the gorilla Species Survival Plan program under the AZA.  The goal of any SSP is to maintain a genetically diverse,  healthy and self-sustaining population of the various species.  All these years, the gorilla SSP has decided not to try to breed Acadia because of the fear of inbreeding. The problem would not effect her children so much,  but it would become an issue for their mating. It would be quite difficult to try and find unrelated gorillas to serve as mates for any of Acacia's babies  But now, suddenly, at age seventeen, Acacia has been taken off of birth control. Why?

The breeding season of 2011-2012 has had a very low yield, with only Bomassa and Apollo and two other gorilla babies born in all of the AZA zoos by midyear 2012. It is unusual to have only four successful gorilla births in a year. More gorillas are needed, so the SSP decided to go ahead and give Acacia a chance. She's not related to Nkosi, the silverback she lives with, and further, she's got an excellent opportunity this year to observe how mother gorillas behave with their babies, which is crucial to the successful raising of those young ones.  So the medicine (which incidentally is the exact same kind of birth control used for women) was stopped and now we are waiting to see what happens. Zoo volunteers told me they have seen Nkosi make a few attempts. While I was standing there, Acacia refused an opportunity, but other times she was willing. So you never know. We could learn any day now that Acacia is pregnant. How will they know for sure? The zookeeper will administer an EPT pregancy test.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

How Apollo Got His Name

Adorable Apollo often rides piggy back upside down

Baby of Olympia the Gorilla gets a name

The younger baby gorilla at the North Carolina Zoo did not have a name right away. Originally, the zoo hoped to sell the naming rights.  The zoo's baby book still reads as of this writing as follows:

Olympia, a female born in 1996, gave birth around 7 p.m., Friday, August 31, to a four-pound male baby. The infant went on exhibit with its mother the following day.  This infant is currently unnamed. The North Carolina Zoological Society is seeking a sponsor to help pay for a shelter structure at the N.C. Zoo's Gorilla Exhibit that would include the right to name the zoo’s new baby gorilla.
However, I recently spoke with the zookeeper, who reported that they had decided to go ahead and name the baby in advance of finding the donor. Apollo seemed an obvious choice, so Apollo it is. Meaning Sun God, the name is Greek, as is the name of mother, Olympia. She was named in honor of the Atlanta Olympics, having been born in June 22, 1996. At the same time, Apollo is also named in honor of his grandfather, Sunshine, who once graced the the San Francisco Zoo.  The zookeepers work very closely with the gorillas and feel much more comfortable being able to relate to Apollo by name.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Gorillas Keep Warm in the Straw

The gorilla babies are starting to play with straw!  On a cold day, the mom gorillas will forage for some food at the Forest Glade exhibit at the North Carolina Zoo and then they'll head  over to where some heaters are installed above the viewing glass. The staff brings in fresh straw every day, first thing in the morning,  and lays it there by the glass. Gorilla moms Jamani and Olympia will pick up the straw and spread it around. Then they curl up in that straw to keep warm for their after-meal snooze.  At first the babies would jerk their arms and hands around, not knowing exactly how to control their limbs. But now the older baby, Bomassa, born August 4, 2012,  is able to manipulate that straw and play with it, making a mess all over his fur, and wrapping pieces around his legs and arms.  Here is the delicate foot of Bomassa , complete with opposable big toe, and the strong and large hand of his mother.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Gorilla Caught Trying to Steal Baby Again

Olympia the Mom Gorilla has been caught in the act. Yes, she is at it again, she apparently wants to get Bomassa away from his mother Jamani. You've been reading here about the five day siege which began with zookeepers arriving early one morning to find that Olympia had both gorilla babies and Jamani had none. No information was available as to exactly what had happened. Nothing had been caught on tape and park rangers  had not seen the event.
Gorilla tries to steal baby
Olympia , left, with Apollo on her back, grabs Bomassa's leg

Gorilla moms will occasionally abandon their babies, so there certainly was the possibility that Olympia was only helping out after Jamani had decided she was unable to care for her son. But no, as we saw, Jamani was only too happy to get Bomassa back and in fact, nursed him constantly for hours. Nor do these photos, taken this week, show a mother who might have engaged in any willing surrender.

As always, larger versions of these photographs and others,  are available for viewing at the Zoo Baby Prints Gallery.

Above,  we see Olympia facing off with Jamani, and reaching around to grasp the tiny arm of sweet Bomassa. As I was photographing, she grabbed more and more of that arm. Below, we see Jamani fighting off the attack in her gentle way with her left arm pushing away Olympia's right. Jamani, bigger than Olympia, is nonetheless a very docile being, while Olympia seems a little more nervous, and asserts her dominance constantly. Olympia is the daughter of the famous Willie B of the Atlanta Zoo who took the role there of strong leader of his troop, after having been alone for the first 27 years of his captivity. Maybe she inherited some of that spunk. Hopefully Jamani will keep standing up for herself and her baby Bomassa.

Gorilla moms and babies
Jamani, right,  presses down on Olympia's arm, as Olympia's large hand grasps Bomassa's leg

Thursday, October 18, 2012

How the Mom Gorilla Got her Baby Back

Here's the resolution of the baby theft incident. After Olympia took baby gorilla Bomassa away from Jamani, she kept him (as well as her own son, Apollo) for a full five days before the zookeepers were able to settle on a decision as to how best to proceed. Recapturing the baby manually was out of the question, as was attempting to shoot Olympia with a dart. The answer injection with a tranquilizer.    They went ahead and tried it and Olympia drifted into a happy slumber.  Zookeepers were able to wrest Bomassa away from his usurper and hand him back to his birth mother. Luckily, Jamani was still producing milk so Bomassa can now continue to nurse.

See more gorilla baby pics and buy prints.

Why did all this occur? Why did Olympia take that baby away from Jamani? It is important to understand that in zoo management, efforts are made to acclimate young  females to mothers already raising babies.  This way the young lady gorillas get to observe motherhood and learn how it's done. So way before it was decided that Olympia and Jamani should be given the opportunity to mate with  Nkosi,  both females had lived in zoos where they observed the birth, the nursing, and the raising of baby gorillas.

As it happens, Olympia had done her observations in a zoo where twins were born, so she was used to seeing one  mom carrying around and nursing two babies at once. As the head honcho (she is the dominant female at the NC Zoo), perhaps she thought she ought to have both babies!   Jamani, on the other hand,  had lived among moms who were happy to pass their babies back and forth to each other; that was normal to her, it is what she was used to seeing. So maybe when Olympia took Bomassa away from Jamani, Jamani did not think it was any big deal. She may have assumed that Olympia would hand the baby back to her at any minute.  We may never know for sure. Anyway, now that Jamani and Bomassa have been reunited,  both babies are being observed closely and seem to be doing fine.

Above we get a rare glimpse of Olympia. She had run out of the warm heated area on the first cold day of autumn to get some of that tasty lettuce you see her holding. Look how tenderly she cradles her son Apollo as she runs back to cuddle up again in the straw piled under the heaters.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Gorillas and Opposable Toes

Gorilla bodies are awesome. They've got opposable toes; what would be the big toe is more like a thumb, allowing gorillas to grip with their feet. Imagine what skilled climbers we humans could be if we could use our hands to grip the upper branch, and our feet to wrap all the way around a lower branch. That's one thing a gorilla has over us: climbing capability. Additionally, their arms are longer, proportionally,  than ours which comes in handy when they are romping around on all fours.

I love how the moms lounge around with their babies. They'll  just stick a foot right up in the air and then reach up the arm, and hold hands with their own foot as seen here. And the babies will lie on the warm belly and stretch out, or work the neck muscles, or try to figure out how to employ their sweet little  hands.  Such is the after-meals routine of the gorilla mom and baby. Eat. Relax. What a life.  Here we have a full view of Olympia and Apollo, while Jamani, who is nursing little Bomassa, has her back to the visitors.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Rare Opportunity to See Gorilla Babies

Adorable Gorilla Baby
The chance to see gorilla babies at the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro represents  a rare opportunity.  According to the NC Zoo website currently there are only about 350 gorillas in 52 AZA-accredited zoos with just four successful births out of eight pregnancies recorded during 2011 and early 2012. A full fifty percent of the gorilla babies in accredited zoos are living in the NCZoo. And fifty percent of those are gazing at you from this webpage.

It can't hurt you to take a nice pair of binoculars whenever you go to a zoo, particularly if baby animals are on hand. Sometimes the entire family hangs out at a good distance from the viewing window; binoculars will help you to get a good view of their adorable faces. Here Bomassa is clutching at his mother Jamani, while looking at the visitors.

Friday, October 12, 2012

No Dice on the Darts

When we left off last time, we told you Olympia had stolen a gorilla baby. Yes, Olympia, the dominant female in the Forest Glade enclosure at the NC Zoo, and mother to her own baby boy gorilla, had grabbed baby boy Bomassa and was feeding and keeping him as well her own sweet Apollo. She was doing a great job, mind you, but had zero interest in giving him back! Zoo personnel wanted to reunite Bomassa with his mother Jumani, seen here munching on lettuce, but knew that the standard route of shooting an animal with a tranquilizing dart was not advisable in this particular case. 
Jamani holds Bomassa while dining, just
a few days before her baby was stolen from her.
       Why was the tranquilizing dart a bad idea, to be avoided at all cost? It's because a good strong dose of medicine would be required to put Olympia to sleep long enough for zookeepers to remove that baby. Should Olympia make a sudden turn at the time of the dart shooting, that dart full of heavy duty sleep-inducing-stuff might just hit one of the tiny boy gorillas. At just about nine pounds, either baby would be overwhelmed by that kind of a shock, with possible fatal results. Therefore use of a dart was completely out of the picture. The zookeepers had to keep thinking, considering, and consulting; meanwhile Olympia was keeping both babies for many days running.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Two Mothers and their Gorilla Babies

Gorilla moms tend to hang out together. Here we see Jamani  holding her baby, Bomassa. Jamani is the larger of the two moms; seated behind her we see Olympia. She's got her baby cradled in her lap as well,  but we just can't see him. Olympia seems to be more private about motherhood than does Jamani, so it is a little trickier for zoo visitors to get a look at her son.
Jumani and Olympia hold their boys
Olympia sits peacefully  behind Jamani

Big trouble erupted a few days after this photo was taken.  One Friday morning, the zookeepers came in and noticed something  new. Olympia was cradling BOTH baby boy gorillas.  This put the zoo into quite a state of affairs. Both moms are nursing, both babies need their milk. The zoo wanted to get Bomassa away from Olympia and back into the rightful hands of his mother. This needed to happen fairly quickly too. As nursing mothers are aware, you can't go too long without nursing your baby, or your body just stops producing milk. Luckily,  Olympia was happily nursing and caring for both babies,  so Bomassa was in no imminent danger.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

New Gorilla Baby at the NC Zoo

Sweet gorilla baby Bomassa at the North Carolina Zoo

Bomassa was born August 4 to mother Jamani, a Western lowland gorilla who lives at the Forest Glade exhibit. He is the son of the silverback Nkosi, and he's got a half brother as well, born just a few weeks later.  I'll plan on posting here from time to time so we can all watch these precious babies grow.

Baby Gorilla Bomassa
Jamani tenderly holds the tiny hand of Bomassa on September 13.