A western lowland gorilla cub named Hasani was born at Bristol Zoo, England, last year. The baby was long-awaited by the whole zoo staff, but unfortunately, his birth mother refused to acknowledge him. No matter how much the staff tried to arouse maternal feelings in her, the female did not want to take care of the baby.
Curator of mammals Lynsey Bugg said: “We really wanted to get them back together and give Kala another chance to look after him. Once Hasani was sufficiently mobile and physically ready for it, we felt the time was right to try them together again. But despite Kala being very keen to begin with, over time she continued to show the worrying signs of not being able to cope. We really tried everything we could every day over several weeks but in the end we had to accept that it wasn’t working.”
The caretakers had to take Hasani under their care – for seven months they took care of him, fed him according to the hourly schedule, and were always there for him. After he got a little stronger, they tried to reunite him with his mother, but it was unsuccessful. The female did not accept Hasani again.
“Although Kera had no rearing experience, she is very intelligent and we have been able to nurture her behaviour,’ Ms Bugg added. “She has seen several other females rear their youngsters and so had a good foundation on which to build on. All the way through hand-rearing, Kera was keen to spend time with Hasani and the two always seemed to get on very well.”
After a week’s break, the caretakers decided to introduce Hasani to another female gorilla, 16-year-old Kera, to see if she could take on the role of a mother. And it worked! The two immediately made contact – Kera quickly took the baby under her care.
Kera had lived at the zoo for many years, and had seen other gorillas taking care of their babies. That’s probably why she gave Hasani all the love she had dreamed of sharing all those years. She finally felt like a mother, and Hasani learned what a mother’s love is. The two now live in the same enclosure and spend almost all their time together.