Jameela, baby gorilla born in Fort Worth, spends more time with new Cleveland zoo family

The entire Cleveland Metroparks Zoo gorilla troop is taking well to Fort Worth-born gorilla baby Jameela as they spend more time together, the Cleveland zoo said in a video update Saturday on social media.

Dr. Elena Less said in the video that the zoo’s staff is seeing great behavior by Jameela’s surrogate mom Freddy and Freddy’s son Kayembe, who have benefited from bonding time with the baby.

“We did see them sleeping together last night — she (Freddy) was holding Jameela and also holding hands with Kayembe during the night, so that was all very sweet to see,” Less said. “She’s just an incredible mother and she’s doing a great job.”

Freddy has been nursing her two children simultaneously, and Kayembe is learning to be gentle with his new little sister. Freddy has reined in the young male gorilla’s behavior when he showed aggression.

Jameela, born several weeks premature by emergency C-section on Jan. 5 at the Fort Worth Zoo, had to be sent to Cleveland after her mother showed no interest in her. The Fort Worth Zoo tried to find a surrogate mother among other females among the Fort Worth gorillas with no success.

So in late March, the zoo made the decision to send Jameela to Cleveland, which has had success with surrogacy in the past.

Because of how well the whole troop is doing with Jameela, the Cleveland zoo may open up the gorilla building to visitors at times, according to the video. At first, visitors may be on an upper level, a little farther back from the animals than they might be used to, in order to give the troop a bit of space. If it seems like the visitors cause any anxiety or problems, the zoo will close the building to guests.

Jameela was first introduced to Freddy and other members of the troop on April 3, in an introduction that lasted about two hours, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo said on social media at the time. The first introduction ended when Kayembe got “a little too rambunctious,” but was still considered a success.

This time, the zoo said Jameela had been with the group for days.

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