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Brisbane, Australia (CNN) — Chad Staples, an Australian father of four and director of Mogo Wildlife Park, a small private zoo in the city of the same name on the southeast coast, said that in many ways, raising a baby gorilla was difficult. Like raising a human baby.
“The resemblance is uncanny. Even looking into his eyes, it’s like you’re looking at a newborn baby, and he’s seeing the universe with every blink,” Staples told CNN. The big-eyed baby orangutan he raised from birth.
For the first few months, Case slept in Staples’ room while zookeepers regularly fed him milk and changed his diapers, a daunting task for a primate because it’s much harder than Human babies are much stronger and able to stick on their hands and feet.
“With the baby, you just have to deal with the little hands that can help you, but with the gorilla, he really wants to make that really difficult,” she said. “I was laughing and thinking, ‘My God.'”
As he grew older, Caius clung to the keepers’ backs during walks at the zoo.
On Friday, Staples watched in amazement — but mostly relief — as 10-month-old Keith shared a breakfast of sweet potatoes and tomatoes with G-Anne, a cat A 42-year-old female gorilla with no relationship to him. Now, seems happy to take on the duties of keeping the zoo’s gorilla house.
“Seeing the two of them together now makes me so happy,” Staples said. “It’s been a great journey.”
a new baby
Kaius was born in the park last October to his 10-year-old mother Kipensi and 17-year-old father Kisane. He is a fat silverback gorilla weighing about 220kg.
Newborn gorillas are usually smaller than full-term human babies, and at 2.2kg Kaius seemed to be doing just fine until Kisane, a giant compared to her tiny newborn, snatched him away from his mother .
“It’s scary because you don’t know if he’s going to do something stupid,” Staples said. “Actually, I am very gentle when holding a baby, but Kaius is only a little over 2 kilograms, so there is a big difference in size.”
For 14 hours, zoo staff tried to convince Kisane to return the baby gorilla, offering him food that needed to be held in both hands and moving the female Kipensi and their mother Kriba to different areas of the gorilla enclosure for them eat. .Follow them, leave the kids behind.
“We’ll never really know why, but I think maybe the father was trying to intervene because he saw something was wrong with the mother,” Staples said.
Kippensie didn’t expel the placenta, which worried veterinarians about the risk of infection, and she didn’t ask her partner to return the baby, as Staples said, something she would have done in the wild.
In the end, Kissane left the baby behind, and zoo staff rushed to pick him up. At that point, the baby was hungry, so they gave him a bottle and tried to give it back to his mother and grandmother the next day.
“They walked up to him, looked at him, and walked away,” Staples explained. “Then they walked past him to get the food and were kind of interested, but not in the way we were really expecting.”
Zoo staff were going to feed him and try again, but when Staples picked him up, she said, “his behavior changed.”
“His face had lost its color and his eyes were very dark so we rushed him to the vet and he collapsed very quickly.”
fight for survival
Case was diagnosed with septic pneumonia just one day after birth.
“He passed out probably half a dozen times, basically with adrenaline shots and everything to rejuvenate his little body,” Staples explained.
“Vets are talking about euthanasia. Doctors are talking about maybe not getting through the night.”
So Staples sat all night with the baby gorilla sleeping on his chest.
“It’s the most comforting thing for him and what gives him control over his heart rate and breathing, skin-to-skin contact and feeling his heartbeat, like he got from his mother.”
Then Kaius started to improve and grow.
When she started going out more, she threw away the diapers and introduced him to other zoo staff so Caius wouldn’t become too dependent on his primary keeper.
Keyes moved from the Staples house inside the zoo to the gorilla enclosure, where he has space next to his new adoptive mother, G-Anne.
The goal is for the two of them to interact enough to eventually share a room. But relocating baby gorillas carries enormous risks.
What is his greatest fear? “The gorilla killed him. Because it’s happened to gorillas and chimpanzees all over the world,” Staples said.
After two days, those concerns were allayed and G-Anne adjusted to her new role.
“She’s a beautiful girl and she always acts like she wants this as much as we do,” he said. “It doesn’t bother me anymore. You know, it’s always on your mind. You know, what if…but not like it used to be.”
For now, the couple will spend some time together before Keyes prepares to make her public debut at the zoo, which is also home to giraffes, zebras, lions, tigers and lemurs.
Staples said Caius appeared to recognize him and hoped the connection would last.
“Once I got close, he’d put his face close to me, and he’d take a deep breath, and he’d hug me, you know, he’d try to kiss me, all those beautiful things,” Staples said.
“I want a lifelong bond. It’s going to be very special.”