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Louisville Zoo's Injured Baby Gorilla Will be Moved to Columbus

by Stephanie Crosby

The baby gorilla who was severely injured at the Louisville Zoo in April is recovering well but she must be moved to a zoo in Ohio to complete her recovery. Recently named Misha, the three-month-old suffered serious injuries, including the amputation of part of her left leg, in a family skirmish in the Gorilla Forest.

Curator Steve Wing says she wasn’t recovering well while still in her mother’s care, so they had to hand-raise the baby. That decision has led to another problem.

“Once we did that, her mother’s milk would dry up,” says Wing. “So we started looking at our options, and the best option for her to grow up to be a gorilla and know how to act and react to gorilla society would be for her to be raised by gorillas.”

Wing says Misha will be moved to the Columbus Zoo, which has developed an extensive gorilla surrogacy program. He says there are two adult female gorillas there that are trained to recognize when the baby is hungry, and deliver her to zoo staff for regular feedings.

Wing expects Misha will live a full life there.

“She has proven to be very adaptable. Primates are very adaptable,” says Wing. “And I think she’s going to grow up and not even realize, maybe, that she’s missing a leg. There are primates out in zoos and out in the wild that adapt perfectly well with three limbs.”

Wing says no date has been set for Misha’s move to Columbus, but it could come in the next week.

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Baby Gorilla Recovering After 'Family Skirmish' Injury

by Stephanie Crosby

The new baby gorilla at the Louisville Zoo is under 24-hour watch by zookeepers after losing her left leg below the knee in what keepers are calling a family altercation.

Original reports yesterday said the baby had been injured by its father, Mshindi. But today Zoo Director John Walczak says there were two other adult gorillas in the area, the baby’s mother, Mia Moja, and another adult – and no one knows what happened.

“When these skirmishes such as this happen, it happens in the blink of en eye, it might take less than a quick minute for it all to happen,” says Walczak. “The male might be involved, but like our situation, we’re still trying to determine the role of the male, the aunt and the mom in this interaction.”

Walczak says they’ve been consulting with a gorilla behavior specialist who says incidents like this are rare, but they have happened before both in the wild and in captivity. All three adults are currently separated and the baby is with her mother.

The unnamed infant is still considered in critical condition, but has shown signs of improvement.

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PHOTOS: Zoo Welcomes Baby Gorilla

One of the Louisville Zoo’s gorillas gave birth over the weekend. Twenty-year-old western lowland gorilla Mia Moja went into labor and delivered on Saturday.

Zoo director John Walczak says the two of them have been so inseparable, it’s been difficult to determine the baby’s gender.

“Mom is clinging on to the baby,” says Walczak, “and that’s exactly what they need to be doing of course, because in the remnant wild, the moms would be out foraging and moving immediately after birth, so baby needs to cling on and be ready for the ride, but we don’t have a confirmation yet on the gender of the baby.”

Walczak says mother and baby are on display at the zoo’s Gorilla Forest, on a rotating basis with the other gorillas.

Western lowland gorillas are critically endangered and the World Wildlife Fund estimates only 100,000 exist in the wild.

This is the zoo’s second gorilla birth in its 41-year history.


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Zoo Officials Announce Baby Gorilla is on the Way

Louisville zoo officials are expecting just the second gorilla birth in the zoo’s history in late March.

Twenty-year-old Mia Moja is pregnant with her second offspring. The baby gorilla’s father is also a resident of the Gorilla Forest, 22-year-old Mshindi.

General Curator Steve Wing says Mia hasn’t shown any pregnancy symptoms that are common to humans.

“Animals in the wild, they have to mask all these special things,” says Wing. “If they’re sick, if they’re pregnant and having – even if they feel bad – they mask it very well because that makes them prey for other things, even something as large as a gorilla.”

Wing says once the baby gorilla is born, it will likely reside in Louisville for at least a couple of years.

He says they’ll likely have some sort of community participation in naming the new gorilla.