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Baby gorilla recovering from facial injury

Friday, May 10, 2013

A baby gorilla at Lincoln Park Zoo is making a recovery from an injury she suffered last February.

Zookeepers still aren't sure how it happened, but are pleased with her progress.

Three-month-old Nayembi suffered a facial injury that required emergency surgery. Following her injury, Nayembi's mother, Rolle, carried her to staff members.

They were both sedated and vets were able to take care of the infant immediately. Zoo officials have now released recent video of now 6-month-old Nayembi and she appears to be showing positive signs of recovery.

She likes to play, crawl and pick up objects. She is doing fantastic and her healing abilities have been amazing.

"She barely has any scarring that is visible and is meeting every developmental milestone for a gorilla infant her age," said Maureen Leahy, Curator of Pirmates. "Even eating broccoli, she's exploring her habitat again and we are introducing her to solid foods."

Nayembi is currently under 24-hour human care.

Leahy says it is still not known how she was injured. Before she returns to her family the zoo needs to insure she is at a good weight. She is still dependent on formula feeding and she will be introduced to solid food eventually. The zoo needs to make sure she is prepared to be back with her family.

"Her mother is in visual proximity with her all the time," Leahy said. "All the members get to see her daily and we have started some touching contact, but all signs are showing that mom is interested and connected with Niemba."

Nayembi has been getting some access to the exhibits without any other gorillas around at that time. Zoo officials are still preparing to get her back into a social group with other gorillas as soon as possible.

"We expect that Nayembi will be able to get back into her social group relatively soon," said Dr. Steven Ross, Lincoln Park Zoo primatologist. "We want to make sure she is completely happy and that the group is socially ready to accept her."

Right now, Nayembi plays about four hours a day, and when she meets the food milestones she will be put back with her group.

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