It’s a boy! Mom Nneka, 23, and dad Mokolo, 34, became proud parents to a newborn baby on Oct. 26. Unfortunately, Nneka has not shown enough maternal care to her new baby, so her son is now being tended to by her neighbor, Fredrika.
Oh wait, we should probably explain: We aren’t talking about human babies, we’re talking about baby gorillas! Nneka and Mokolo are lowland gorillas that reside in the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. The birth of their son (who has not yet been named) is historic news for the Cleveland Zoo, because this is the first time in the zoo’s 139-year history that a baby gorilla has ever been born in their facility.
The zoo announced the exciting news on social media:
— Cleveland Metroparks Zoo (@clemetzoo) November 4, 2021
The zoo has said they will soon be reaching out to the public for possible name suggestions for the baby gorilla. He weighed approximately 3 pounds at birth.
And, although Nneka didn’t immediately take to mothering her newborn, the baby is still being expertly nurtured and loved.
“When Nneka did not show appropriate maternal care, the troop’s eldest female, Fredrika or “Freddy” (47), who herself has raised four infants, instinctively took over maternal care of the newborn,” says the Cleveland Zoo in a press release. “Over the past several days, Freddy has been bringing the newborn to be bottle fed by Cleveland Metroparks Zoo’s animal care team.”
The zookeepers are using positive reinforcement to help encourage the gorilla family to participate in the feeding of the newborn. Newborn gorillas need almost constant contact with their mother for the first 6 months of their life, so it’s very important that Freddy has helped to care for the troop’s littlest member.
If you live in Cleveland and want to see the new gorilla baby and the rest of the gorilla troop, you can visit the Primate, Cat & Aquatics building daily at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Otherwise, you can stay tuned to the zoo’s social media to see how the newborn is doing.
— Cleveland Metroparks Zoo (@clemetzoo) November 5, 2021