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Monday, February 25, 2013

Weighing a Baby Gorilla

An Ape's Maternal instinct is enough to keep a gorilla mother from handing over her baby to the zookeeper  So she won't do it, even when keepers need to weigh the baby to be sure he is thriving. Apollo is doing just fine, weighing in at about twelve pounds as of last week. But wait, how can we know that if Olympia is not anxious to share that bouncing bundle?

Olympia cradles Apollo
As a routine, the keepers will weigh the adult gorillas. And they are able to record a mother's weight when she happens to be holding the baby.  Then if she is still on the scale when the little gorilla decides to step away, keepers quickly look at the scale again. They make note of the amount,  and do a little subtraction to find the weight of the baby.  Apollo will be six months old at the beginning of March, making him slightly younger than his half-brother Bomassa. Yet he weighs more.  Even stranger given that his mother Olympia is the smaller gorilla. How is it possible that Apollo is heavier?  The two moms, Olympia and Jamani, were pregnant simultaneously, but there is no way of knowing who was actually pregnant first, and whether their gestation periods were exactly eight and a half months long, or not.   Other factors come into play as well, so who knows.   Maybe it is time for a growth spurt for Bomassa.