|Acacia Gorilla, February 2013|
Acacia had such a long labor and required surgery. I was afraid for the baby, and afraid for her, and then when the baby was born strong and healthy, and when Acacia quickly came out of anasthesia, there was such a sense of relief. My next hope was she would recognize that baby as hers, and take naturally to mothering the little angel. How amazing that she got through all those hurdles. News articles seem to indicate that after zoo personnel bottlefed the baby for two days, Acacia was doing very well with the idea of being a mother and gladly accepted him in her arms. She's had plenty of good modeling from Jamani and Olympia, that's certain. And I know Acacia would make a fantastic mother, too. She is very gentle and loving, as is evident when she cuddles so tenderly with Bomassa.
But then sometime on Tuesday night, after the baby had been returned to Acacia, something terribly sad happened, and the baby smothered. It's not entirely uncommon for a mother gorilla, particularly a first time gorilla mother, accidentally to roll over on a very small baby such that he can not get air. This is what zoo personnel believe has happened. We are all so very sad that this has been the end result for Acacia and the amazing little baby boy gorilla we have all lost.
It really is a very sad event. And yet, not uncommon. Even in the wild, gorilla moms sometimes roll over on their young in their sleep, and lose their precious babies to suffocation or to crushing. Acacia will be hurting very badly over this, just as any one of us would upon losing a child. Gorilla mothers are known to carry their babies around with them after a death, sometimes for days, until they can come to grips with the loss. I do not know how Acacia is reacting just now because I've not yet been out to talk to zoo personnel and the volunteers. We may know more later, but for now, let's simply hold Acacia and her lost little dear in our hearts and wish them well.