San Diego Zoo baby gorilla begins to crawl

San Diego Zoo Safari Park gorillas baby Joanne and mother Imani are shown in this photo. (San Diego Zoo Safari Park)

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park's baby gorilla that was born in a rare emergency C-section is learning to crawl, sit and eat by herself.

Baby Joanne, named after the first chairwoman of the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global, was born on March 12. At 5 months, she is still often found on her mother Imani's back, but has recently taken to testing her independence.

Zoo staff report that she is starting to explore on her own, imitating her mom and sampling fruits and veggies. She has about eight teeth.

"We've seen Joanne crawl away from Imani a little bit while she's sitting on exhibit," Jami Pawlowski, keeper at the Safari Park, said. "Imani always keeps her eye on her but Joanne is testing out her independence and seeing how far she can get."

Joanne lives with seven other gorillas, including 3-year-old Monroe and 6-year-old Frank. Monroe has been seen poking Imani and Joanne before running away.

When Joanne was born, she was under intensive care, receiving oxygen and supplemental fluids at the hospital. She is the 17th gorilla born at the park.

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