A three-week-old Western lowland gorilla observed his surroundings as he was held by his mother this morning at the San Diego Zoo. The infant is quickly growing and already reaching milestones at his young age. Animal care staff noted that experienced mother Jessica has now begun holding her infant in different positions. Jessica can be seen holding her baby facing him outward instead of always keeping him pressed into her chest.
Jessica also occasionally will let go of her grip on the baby as she forages, and keepers say the baby can already support his own body weight. The baby, who weighs just a few pounds, will grasp tightly to his mother’s hair and hold on by himself when Jessica lets go to look for food. Keepers at the San Diego Zoo place food items in different areas throughout the exhibit to encourage the animals to search for food (or forage) in a way that mimics what they’d do in the wild, providing them with an opportunity to express species-specific behavior.
This infant, born on Dec. 26, is part of a troop that includes silverback leader Paul Donn, 26, mother Jessica, 34, and another female, Ndjia, who is 20 years old. Since the new baby has been born, Paul Donn has been showing extra affection with Jessica and will sleep next to her and the baby. The troop is expected to have access to the outdoor exhibit as long as weather permits.
Photo taken on Jan. 14, 2015, by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo.