First look: Lincoln Zoo`s baby gorilla thrives after face injury - New York News

First look: Lincoln Zoo`s baby gorilla thrives after face injury

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Some say the bond between a mother and child is unbreakable. Caretakers at Lincoln Park Zoo are hopeful that will be the case for Nayembi and her mother, Rollie.

For the first time, we're getting a first look at how well baby Nayembi is doing since she sustained a severe facial injury in February.

"It's a very unusual injury," Dr. Steve Ross, the Director of Center for Conservation of Apes explains. "We still don't know exactly what happened. But, luckily we have an excellent veterinary staff that was able to handle it and her recovery has really been remarkable."

After undergoing surgery, now nearly 6-month-old Nayembi is crawling around her exhibit. She's even experimenting with solid foods like broccoli.

To get her to this point, it's taken some creative thinking by the caretakers here.

"The humans are actually wearing a sort of mock, fur vest that mimics the hair that she would be clinging on her own gorilla mother," says Lincoln Park Zoo's Curator of Primates Maureen Leahy. "We're also behaving like gorillas, so we're not coddling her with cute human words of ‘ooh' and ‘ahh,' but we're actually vocalizing more like her gorilla mom would vocalize to her."

Despite how adorable Nayembi is, doctors here say she still needs to be treated like the wild and endangered animal she is.

The goal now is getting all of the gorillas acclimated to having her inside the exhibit.

"She's always in visual proximity of most importantly her mother, but all the other members of the troop," Leahy explains. "She can hear them, see them, smell them and we've even begun some touching contact."

Leahy says its kind and gentle touching between a mother and daughter trying their best to remember the bond that is considered unbreakable.

"When Nayembi is eating, mom will pick up food and eat as well," she says. "So, there's definitely a connection there."

Nayembi's caretakers say she still has a number of goals to reach before she is placed back with the other gorillas. The hope is to have her back with her family in the next month.

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