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.

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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.