Good News for Nayembi
How is Nayembi doing? That’s a question I hear often from friends of the zoo, eager to hear how the baby gorilla is recovering behind the scenes at Regenstein Center for African Apes.
The simple answer? Happily, she’s doing well. She continues to meet new milestones, climbing, crawling and trying her first solid foods. She’s still receiving around-the-clock care from our animal experts. To help keep Nayembi in her wild context, our caregivers do their best gorilla imitations, mimicking the grunts, play and eating patterns of the family group led by silverback Kwan.
Even as Nayembi receives constant nurturing and care, you’ll notice we haven’t offered a stream of photos with the baby gorilla interacting with humans. There’s a good reason for that. Research by one of our leading scientists, Fisher Center Director Steve Ross, has shown that people who see images of humans and apes sharing space are less likely to consider these amazing animals to be endangered.
The fact is, western lowland gorillas are critically endangered. As zoos across the country work together to conserve them, their wild populations declining due to habitat loss and hunting. As proud as we are of the care on display, we can’t do anything to undermine the notion that gorillas need protecting.
What’s next for Nayembi? While our caregivers have done a great job imitating gorillas, the baby has recently been able to get some much-needed exposure to actual gorillas. Nayembi’s mom, Rollie, and our other mom-and-baby pair, Bana and Patty, have shifted their living arrangements to have constant access behind the scenes. They’re physically separated from Nayembi, but they can go see her whenever they want. They often do, giving the little one the important opportunity to see and smell her family.
Our ultimate goal is to fully reintroduce Nayembi back to her family group. Our animal care experts are making all the adjustments to ensure she can be fully cared for, monitored and fed while on exhibit. Hopefully we’ll be there soon. When we are, I’ll be sure to let you know.
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