Baby gorilla awaits surrogate mother

SAN FRANCISCO

Curator of primates Corinne MacDonald said today the nearly 3-week-old gorilla is eating and sleeping most of the time and that he is healthy and strong.

"When he is awake, he is very much alert," MacDonald said.

After several attempts at unifying the baby gorilla with his birth mother, who detached herself from her infant almost immediately after giving birth, the veterinary staff at the zoo placed the baby gorilla in the care of human caregivers. He lives in one of the rooms in the adult building where adult gorillas have constant visual contact with him, MacDonald said.

The veterinary staff is now training Bawang, a mother of three, who will become a surrogate mother for the first time.

MacDonald said the training process is long but it is going well.

"She is one of the smartest gorillas we have," MacDonald said. The union between the baby gorilla and his surrogate mother will depend not only on the progress of her training but also on the baby gorilla's strength and readiness.

Monifa, the baby gorilla's birth mother, is doing well and is showing some interest toward her infant, MacDonald said. She will come over and look at him, but she does not display as much interest in him as the baby gorilla's father or the other adult gorillas.

The veterinary staff has yet to decide on a name for the baby gorilla.

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