An abandoned baby gorilla from Texas has found a new mother among her own kind at the Cincinnati Zoo after spending months with humans acting as surrogate parents.
The 5-month-old female Western lowland gorilla named Gladys has bonded with a 30-year-old gorilla named M'Linzi since they were introduced in mid-June, with the older gorilla showing maternal care by carrying, comforting and sleeping with Gladys, the Cincinnati Zoo said Monday.
Gladys was born Jan. 29 at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas. After her mother rejected her, she was moved in February to Cincinnati, where a team of caregivers dressed in black outfits and fur vests provided around-the-clock care and taught her to act like a gorilla.
The baby's transition to a gorilla surrogate marks a happy achievement for the keepers, whose goal was to help Gladys live a happy life, Ron Evans, the zoo's primate team leader and one of the surrogate parents, said in a statement on the zoo's website.
"Gladys is not our baby. Gladys is not our pet," he said. "Gladys is a gorilla and will now forever live as one. I am thrilled to see her make that transition."
Zookeepers believe Gladys is in good hands with M'Linzi, who has some prior parental experience. In 1995, she gave birth to a female named Mara, who still lives at the zoo.
For now the zoo is focused on letting Gladys and her new surrogate mother bond behind the scenes. There's no timetable yet for when they might be part of an exhibit in public view.