November 8, 2017
- as seen by -Sabrina Squillari
Our most recent western lowland gorilla birth at the the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo was a special one. Kidogo Njemba was born on July 16, 2015. Njemba’s mother, Suki, suffered postpartum complications preventing her from raising him. That is when the Bronx Zoo gorilla keepers stepped in. But how do you provide the necessary care while still ensuring he develops gorilla instincts?
We did this by keeping Njemba in view of his gorilla family group as much as possible for his first eight months. Feeding time, naptime, and playtime all took place alongside his family, especially his mother Suki and father Ernie. Once Njemba’s mobility and cognitive skills were sufficiently developed, it was time to reunite Njemba with his family. Suki immediately scooped him up. Njemba began his life with his gorilla family. Suki was quick to learn that bringing Njemba to his keepers for his bottle twice a day meant more treats and keeper interaction for her, too.
To see the reunion of this mother and son pair, and his fluid transition back into his troop is one of the most rewarding experiences in my career. (Suki with Njemba, now two years old, above.)
EDITOR’S NOTE: Happy Birthday, Bronx Zoo. The Bronx Zoo opened on November 8, 1899, with bison, orangutans, caribou, and alligators being among some of the first exhibits for guests to come and view. Gorillas were added to the zoo in the early 1900s.
Read about Ernie, Njemba’s silverback father, here.