Bristol

Bristol Zoo baby gorilla moves in with new mother

Gorillas Image copyright Bristol Zoo
Image caption Afia will still require milk feeds from her keepers until she is about four years old

A hand-reared baby gorilla which was born 10 months ago has moved in with a surrogate mother.

Afia, a Western lowland gorilla, was left fighting for her life after being born by emergency caesarean and had to be cared for by Bristol Zoo staff.

Her reintroduction to the gorillas began in October when Afia started bonding with her surrogate mother Romina.

Her birth mother Kera was too ill to look after Afia, the zoo said.

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Media captionBaby gorilla moves in with new mother
Image copyright Bristol Zoo

Lynsey Bugg, curator of mammals, said the zoo's ultimate aim was to reunite Alfie with her gorilla family.

"We all feel immensely proud and relieved to now see her where she belongs," she said.

When Afia was born the zoo said it was "touch-and-go" whether her birth mother Kera would survive.

Image copyright Bristol Zoo
Image caption Bristol Zoo said it wanted to keep "human imprinting" to an absolute minimum

Vet Rowena Killick said Kera was quite slow to recover from general anaesthesia and "it soon became clear she was still very unwell".

She said: "She was treated intensively for severe anaemia in the weeks that followed and finally completed all her treatment eight and a half months later. She was not well enough to care for Afia due to this illness."

Romina, one of the older females in the troupe, had been identified as the surrogate mother for the baby and training had taken place before the introduction so that she would return Afia to keepers for bottle feeding several times a day.

Afia will still require milk feeds from her keepers until she is about four years old although the zoo said it had tried to keep "human imprinting" to an absolute minimum.

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