Pets and their People: Baby Kigali

Carrie McLaren carrie at stayfreemagazine.org
Thu Oct 4 22:18:04 EDT 2001


The People
September 30, 2001, Sunday

SECTION: FEATURES; Pg. 40,41

HEADLINE: PETS AND THEIR PEOPLE: NATURAL BORN GORILLA..;
  THE BABY APE WHO AMAZED THE WORLD

BYLINE: Charlotte Seligman

BODY:

These heart-warming pictures of new-born gorilla Kigali snuggling up 
with his natural mother Moseka have amazed animal experts. For Kigali 
was born in IN CAPTIVITY - an incredibly rare occurrence for gorillas 
in itself. But for the mother to display such heart-warming affection 
by kissing and cuddling her little bundle is almost unheard of.

The amazing scenes were captured on video by Jean Vermeer, boss of 
Monkey Valley in Romagne, France.

He said: "Great primates rarely reproduce in captivity. Those that do 
have no idea how to care for their babies and often reject them. 
Moseka's motherly love is even more exceptional because she was 
herself rejected by her mother."

Seventeen-year-old Moseka gave birth without any help from zoo 
keepers and even managed to breast-feed her baby - also rarely 
achieved by any captive gorilla because they have not needed to 
provide for themselves.

Jean said: "Gorillas' reproduction relies on so many psychological 
factors and if a female is not happy in her environment or if she 
does not like the domineering male of the group, she will never have 
babies."

Jean installed a video camera in Moseka's enclosure so he could 
monitor the amazing birth and give help if needed.

He said: "Suddenly, I saw Moseka move a bit on her straw bed and set 
the nest. Fifty-six minutes later Kigali appeared. Moseka studied him 
carefully. She was surprised at first but then seemed to know exactly 
what she was doing and started to breast-feed."

Today six months on, Moseka and Kigali have re-joined their group of 
six gorillas.
Moseka has introduced her baby to its father Yaounde, who expressed 
his satisfaction through shouts of pleasure - and then got on with 
the serious business of peeling a banana.




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