Gorilla joy for Gisborne keeper

New mum at Melbourne Zoo, Kimya, is continuing to bond well with her new baby. Photo: Chris Fleming Zookeeper, Ulli Weiher, keeps an eye on mother and baby. Photo: Chris Fleming

Gisborne’s Ulrike (Ulli) Weiher is among the zoo keepers monitoring Melbourne Zoo’s exciting new gorilla arrival.

Ulli’s history with primates dates back to that significant time when Australia welcomed not only the nation’s first-born gorilla, but the world’s first surviving AI (artificial insemination) gorilla. Ulli helped raise Mzuri in 1984, after he was rejected by his mother.

“It was hard work,” Ulli admits, with relief that the zoo’s newest primate is being well looked after by her mother.

“It’s great to see a baby being mother-raised. There’s nothing more joyful than seeing the gorilla take care of its own baby. That’s the ultimate when you work with animals as a zoo keeper,” Ulli says.

She says the mother, Kimya seems to have learnt about how to be a mum from observing other gorilla mums in her group.

This is the seventh gorilla to be born at Melbourne Zoo, all which have been in Ulli’s care.

Ulli, a senior primate keeper, told theGuardianthe baby girl and Kimya are continuing to bond well and are in good health.

She says they are resting regularly – much to the dismay of the curious public visitors.

Ulli says the baby is growing very quickly and seems content.

Kimya, a western lowland gorilla, delivered the baby, her first, at about 6.05pm on March 14.

Ulli was there for the birth and said it was a very exciting time.

The baby’s father is fellow Melbourne Zoo resident, Otana.

The baby gorilla will be named on Monday.

The Melbourne Zoo gorillas are ambassadors for mobile phone recycling campaign, They’re Calling on You. A component of mobile phones is harvested from gorillas habitats, seriously threatening the endangered species. To help, search ‘phone cycle’ online and donate your old phone.

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