Okanda, the six-month-old baby gorilla at Twycross Zoo in baby gorilla has been extremely poorly and their vet Sarah has been living with him around the clock as she helps nurse him back to health. We discovered a problem with his mothers milk which meant the young primate was not getting the nutrients he needed. They had to sedate his mother, Ozala, while keepers hurried the infant to the on-site vet.
Sarah is now living with Okanda at an undisclosed location; She is only communicating with the infant through grunts, mimicking the sounds and actions of a primate so not to expose him to human influence.
Vet and director of life sciences at the zoo Sharon Redrobe said: "We're very pleased with his progress but we thought we were going to lose him. It's been very touch and go. He was so thin and he doesn't want to be left alone because after all he's still only a baby. Sarah isn't holding him like a human baby, or talking to him, just grunting and grooming him like his mother would do."
Okanda was put on a drip and had a feeding tube placed in his stomach as he was not strong enough to feed from a bottle. He was then fed powdered baby milk every three hours while his condition was continuously assessed. For the past few days, staff have been weaning the youngster off milk and on to solid foods, such as bananas and food pellets.
Sharon said: "He was really quiet until yesterday, but now he's starting to play and make gorilla noises. He's started biting Sarah, which is a good sign for him, but not so good for Sarah."
‘We hope he will be back with his mum in about eight weeks. Gorillas are intelligent animals and it's clear she misses him. We were worried that she would go off her food and we'd have to care for her too, but luckily we've not had any serious problems."
Conservation at Twycross Zoo
Twycross Zoo - East Midland Zoological Society works to conserve endangered species in two different ways:
1. The first form of conservation is called ex-situ. This comprises of everything that is done to help the species outside the native country. Twycross Zoo enrols as many animals as they can into captive breeding programs. These are globally controlled programs that ensure the animals we keep are bred to be genetically viable for release into the wild in the future.
2. The second form of conservation is called in-situ. This involves Twycross Zoo providing practical and financial support to projects working directly with the animals or the habitats in their native countries. To help them do this Twycross Zoo manages the Conservation Welfare Fund.
The Conservation Welfare Fund provides small grants to animal welfare and species conservation programs worldwide, but also has a much larger aim.