SAN DIEGO -- For the first time, a gorilla named Imani was allowed Monday to embrace her 12-day-old baby at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
The as-yet-unnamed baby underwent surgery for a collapsed lung soon after birth and then was treated for pneumonia -- all at the park hospital. The mother, who is 18, which is old for a first-time gorilla mother, has been recovering from a Caesarean section.
Imani sniffed the baby, picked her up and then carried her and cradled her in the gorillas' "bedroom area," zookeepers said.
"About three hours in, she began nursing the baby," said Andrew Stallard, animal care supervisor at the park. "After about a five-minute bout, the baby fell asleep, which is exactly what we were looking for."
Other gorillas were allowed to see Imani and the newborn through a protective mesh barrier.
One gorilla, a 5-year-old male named Frank, was allowed to get close to mother and child. Frank and Imani have a "special bond," although Frank is not the father of the baby, zookeepers said.
The park has eight gorillas, including the newborn.
Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times