Recovering Gorilla Shows 'Normal Baby Behaviors', Remains Separated

Lincoln Park Zoo officials said this week that a 3-month-old injured gorilla, Nayembi, is recovering well. But the baby will likely not return to her mother, Rollie, for some time.

Like most gorillas her age, baby Nayembi generally divides her time between two activities—napping and playing.

But the fact that the recently injured gorilla is eager to play at all has Lincoln Park Zoo caregivers very happy, according to a recent notice from the staff. 

The 3-month-old gorilla was hospitalized last week and listed in stable condition after she reportedly suffered a "serious facial injury". And in the wake of surgery and swelling, the play is offering a welcome reminder that she’s taking the first steps toward recovery.

"We aren’t sure precisely what caused the injury, although it appears to have been inflicted by another gorilla," Lincoln Park Zoo President Kevin Bell said following the incident. "We can say there were no prior indications of aggression in the gorilla troop."

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The zoo's animal hospital will likely be the setting for Nayembi’s play for a while, staff said. The little one needs regular check-ups and around-the-clock care as she recovers, which is easier to provide in the veterinary clinic’s controlled setting.

“We’re thrilled with how she’s responding,” said Megan Ross, doctor and vice president of animal care. “We’re seeing a lot of normal baby behaviors—crawling, exploring, putting toys in her mouth.”

Over at the Regenstein Center for African Apes, though, , is still getting some baby time with the . The 16-year-old female is closely bonded to the troop’s other mom, Bana.

“Bana has been seen sharing a nest with Rollie,” Maureen Leahy, curator of primates, said. “She’s even allowing 4-month-old baby Patty to playfully interact with Rollie at times.”

After an intense week, the playful moments offer hope toward progress. Caregivers said they hope to catalogue many more of them in the weeks ahead.

Zoo officials noted this week that they've been fielding phone calls and e-mails from community members wanting to help Nayembi recover.

In response, they've added a few items to their Wish List including the cost for feeding the baby gorillaproviding around-the-clock care and buying enrichment items, such as toys.

Looking for more Lincoln Park Zoo news?

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  • 'Bear' the Burden: Zoo Announces Polar Bear Awareness Week

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