Injured baby gorilla, mother reunited at Lincoln Park Zoo

July 18, 2013 (CHICAGO)

The zoo announced Thursday that Nayembi, the baby female western lowland gorilla, was back living with her mother, Rollie, a 16-year-old gorilla.

Nayembi was reintroduced to Rollie on Wednesday at the Regenstein Center for African Apes, zoo officials said.

"This is exactly what we have been working toward, and seeing Nayembi back in Rollie's arms is incredible," said Lincoln Park Zoo Curator of Primates Maureen Leahy. "Both gorillas seemed to pick up right where they left off with their mother/daughter relationship."

Zoo staff had been caring for Nayembi 24 hours a day since she sustained what zoo officials called a severe facial injury in February.

Nayembi gained a new playmate in the time she was gone, too. A baby gorilla named Patty, born about a month before Nayembi, is now living with her own mother, an 18-year-old gorilla named Bana, and Nayembie and Rollie. The four gorillas are currently living in a space next to the rest of the troop, including Kwan, the silverback who is the father of both of the babies.

In time, zoo staff plan to reintroduce both pairs to the other three members of their troop, but until then, the staff will continue to care for the mother and baby pairs throughout each day.

"This is the first step in the very delicate process of full troop reintroduction," said Leahy. "We are watching closely to make sure Nayembi continues to eat appropriately. We want to make sure she is absolutely comfortable in her new surroundings and will make any adjustments needed to ease this transition."

Extra privacy is presently being given to Nayembi, Patty, Rollie and Bana, who are not yet visible to the public as they continue to bond. The zoo's Regenstein Center for African apes will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on weekends and holidays.

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