An infant western lowland gorilla at Bristol Zoo Gardens is being given round-the-clock care by keepers.
The baby, which keepers now know is male, is two months old and was delivered naturally but has not been feeding well and his mother, Kala, has been finding looking after him challenging.
He was not getting enough milk from Kala to survive so a small team of experienced keepers is now caring for him and bottle feeding him day and night.
This will continue for the next four months after which it is hoped he will be ready to return to the rest of the group.
During the day, the baby gorilla is being looked after in the Gorilla House to allow plenty of opportunities for Kala and the other gorillas to see him, smell him and be near him, and ensure that he continues to be accepted as a familiar member of the gorilla family.
At night the infant is being cared for by keepers in Zoo-owned accommodation onsite.
Now the youngster needs a name and the Zoo is inviting members of the public to help choose.
Keepers have drawn up a shortlist of names and the Zoo is running a naming poll on its Facebook page from today (Thursday October 22).
The names to vote on are:
- Motuku - means ‘Chief of the Village’ in Bubi (local language in Equatorial Guinea)
- Hasani – means ‘Handsome’ in Swahili
- Luango – town/city on the coast of Equatorial Guinea
- Kidosi - popular African name, particularly in Central Africa
To vote for your favourite name, visit facebook.com/BristolZooGardens/.
Lynsey Bugg, Mammals Curator at Bristol Zoo Gardens, said: “Hand-rearing any animal is not a decision we take lightly as our preference is always for an animal to be reared naturally by its own mother.
“Sadly this doesn’t always happen and in this instance we decided that it was in the baby gorilla’s best interests for us to hand rear him to ensure he had the best chance of survival.”
Lynsey said keepers would do their best to treat him like a gorilla mum would, expecting him to hold on tight and making gorilla vocalisations to make reintroduction into the group as easy for him as possible.
She added: “It’s really important for him that he remains a familiar member of the group, as well as being used to all the sounds, sights and smells of the gorillas.”
The rest of the gorilla troop are doing well and keepers are keeping a close eye on Kala who is adjusting well and is in good health.
While the gorilla house is open as normal, the baby gorilla is not able to be seen by the public at this stage.
Bristol Zoo has been caring for gorillas since 1930. The Zoo plays a significant role in the conservation breeding programme for western lowland gorillas as well as running a conservation programme in Equatorial Guinea in Africa.
Bristol Zoological Society also raises significant funds for gorilla conservation in the wild, supports a gorilla orphanage in Cameroon and has pioneered veterinary treatment for gorillas.
Bristol Zoological Society, which operates Bristol Zoo Gardens and Wild Place Project, is a conservation and education charity and relies on the generous support of the public not only to fund its important work at Bristol Zoo Gardens and Wild Place Project, but also its vital conservation and research projects spanning four continents.
In March 2020 Bristol Zoological Society launched an appeal to ensure the future of its work ‘saving wildlife together’.
The Society, which is a registered charity, launched the BZS Appeal following the temporary closure of both its sites in Bristol in the face of the Covd-19 pandemic. To find out more about the appeal, or to make a donation, visit bristolzoo.org.uk/bzsappeal.