An abandoned baby gorilla, Kamina, will soon join a group of adult female gorillas at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Powell, Ohio, which will be her third home since she was born at the Oklahoma City Zoo in Oklahoma last August, according to Reuters. After her mother, Ndjole, declined to care for her, Kamina was transferred to the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden in Ohio for some TLG: tender, loving gorillafication.
During her time in Cincinnati, 16 humans in gorilla suits have served as Kamina’s surrogates, as the zookeepers have fed and nurtured her, while introducing her to adult female gorillas.
Kamina is a western lowland gorilla, an endangered species that lives in heavy rain forests, as KCPO-TV reported. Western lowland gorillas constitute the most common type of gorilla found in zoos. They are native to central Africa and are the smallest subspecies of gorilla. They are frequently hunted illegally for their meat and skins and often captured for sale to zoos.
Kamina is now four months old, the Cincinnati zoo said in a statement. And she is ready to be moved to the Columbus zoo, where 14 surrogate gorilla infants have been successly introduced to adult female gorillas in the past.
Before choosing to make the move, the Cincinnati zoo attempted to match Kamina with two of its own adult females, but both tries were unsuccessful. “Our team of human surrogates has done everything right,” said Ron Evans, curator of primates at the Cincinnati zoo. “Kamina has learned all of the behaviors she needs to know in order to be successful in a gorilla group. Unfortunately, neither of the adult females that we hoped would bond with her did.”
According to Evans: “All the gorillas are very connected in their behaviors. They can be influenced overtly by happenings around them or sometimes by something very subtly.” He added: “[S]urrogate motherhood is not something that we want to push too hard. It has to be fluid and desired.”