Gorilla Reunion

Injured Baby Gorilla Nayembi Reunites with Her Mother  

(Chicago – July 18, 2013) Lincoln Park Zoo is thrilled to announce that Nayembi, the female western lowland gorilla injured earlier this year, has reunited with her mother and some other troop members after months of around-the-clock care by animal care staff.

Nayembi, born last November, and her mother, Rollie, 16, have been living side by side at Regenstein Center for African Apes and could see and smell each other for the past several months. But on Wednesday, the two were finally fully reintroduced to one another under the watchful eyes of zoo staff.

“This is exactly what we have been working toward, and seeing Nayembi back in Rollie’s arms is incredible,” said Curator of Primates Maureen Leahy. “Both gorillas seemed to pick up right where they left off with their mother/daughter relationship.”

In addition to being fully back with her mom, Nayembi has gained a playmate. Baby Patty, born just over a month before Nayembi, and her mother Bana, 18, are also living with the newly-reunited pair. All four gorillas are currently staying in an area adjacent to the rest of the troop, including Kwan, the silverback who is the father to both youngsters.

“We are fortunate to have two gorilla infants so close in age to one another. Patty and Nayembi are already interacting and beginning to play together, while both mothers keep a watchful eye on them,” said Leahy.

The reunion has been a long time coming, with animal care staff providing 24-hour care for Nayembi since she sustained a severe facial injury in February. Eventually both mother and baby pairs will be reintroduced to the other three individuals in the troop; in the meantime, the around-the-clock care will continue.

“This is the first step in the very delicate process of full troop reintroduction,” said Leahy. “We are watching closely to make sure Nayembi continues to eat appropriately. We want to make sure she is absolutely comfortable in her new surroundings and will make any adjustments needed to ease this transition.”

Regenstein Center for African Apes will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on weekends and holidays. Extra privacy is being afforded to Nayembi, Rollie, Bana, and Patty as they continue to bond, so they will not yet be visible to the public.

Media Contacts:       

Sharon Dewar                     

(312) 742-2246                    

Tiffany Ruddle
(312) 742-5791


Lincoln Park Zoo, a historic Chicago landmark founded in 1868, is dedicated to connecting people with nature by providing a free, family-oriented wildlife experience. A leader in conservation science both globally and locally, the zoo exemplifies the highest quality animal care and educational outreach. The not-for-profit zoo, managed by The Lincoln Park Zoological Society, is a member-supported organization and one of the nation’s only free, privately managed zoos. For more information, call 312 -742-2000 or visit www.lpzoo.org


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Photos and Video credited to Todd Rosenberg / Lincoln Park Zoo July 18, 2013