Isn't it wonderful to see baby animals taken care of in the Zoo nursery...or is it? The reality is that if the nursery is empty, the babies are being raised by their mothers which is the very best situation for the wellbeing of the baby. When the babies are with their own mothers and their own species, they learn vocalizations and behaviors of their species. When a mother is not able to raise its offspring, the Zoo hospital/nursery staff takes over to give that individual baby a better chance of survival.
Hand rearing and Early Introduction of a Lowland Gorilla - a success story
On April 8, 2005 the gorilla Timu delivered a baby but she did not care for it well. Rather than taking the baby gorilla to the Zoo nursery, the staff began feeding and caring for the baby entirely in the gorilla building. In this environment the baby gorilla could see, smell, hear and interact with other gorillas as it grew. The care and feeding was provided by Zoo staff and docents fo rapproximately six months. Adapting a technique from the Columbus Zoo, as the baby became more active and more aware of its surroundings, it was introduced to other gorillas in adjacent enclosures. The baby gorilla was also taught to take its bottle through the mesh walls. When the young gorilla was strong enough and mobile enough to come over to the mesh for its bottles on its own, it was introduced to one of the adult females to "adopt" and nurture. The pair went back in with their larger group, giving the baby an opportunity to grow up in a more natural gorilla social situation, learning to be a normal, well adjusted gorilla.