17/08/2017

Bristol Zoo’s baby gorilla sees the world backwards

Bristol Zoo’s baby gorilla, Ayana, is now three months old but sees the world the wrong way round quite a lot of the time.

That’s because mum Touni picks her up and lifts her onto her shoulders, leaving Ayana facing backwards.

Senior keeper Shani Ratnayake said: “She cannot turn herself around. So she just sits there and sees the world the wrong way round.

“But apart from that she is progressing really well.”

Ayana was born to mum, Touni, and dad Jock near the end of April.

Shani said she is now at a point where she is ready to start eating solids and has been opening and closing her mouth.

She said: “Once she has worked out how to chew and swallow then she will start to eat. It won’t be very long now.”

But mum Touni, who is nine years old and has been at the Zoo in Clifton since September last year, will continue feeding Ayana until she is about four years old.

Shani said: “Touni is a very attentive mum and looks after and cleans Ayana. She is very protective. We couldn’t have asked for better.”

Currently Ayana is about 30cm long, and although keepers do not handle her they think she weighs a couple of kilos.

Touni is encouraging Ayana to play with the other infant in the group, Afia, who was born by caesarean section at the Zoo 18 months ago.

Shani said: “Afia is very interested in Ayana, and Touni quite often goes across to encourage Ayana to play with Afia.”

Bristol Zoological Society has been involved in primate conservation since the 1990s, supporting projects to prevent some of the most charismatic species from becoming extinct.

Bristol Zoo also supports the largest gorilla sanctuary in Africa near Cameroon’s capital Yaoundé, which is home to around 17 young gorillas, 90 chimpanzees and over 150 monkeys.

In Cameroon gorillas and chimpanzees are hunted for their meat and their young are often taken and sold as pets, only to end up abandoned or dying of starvation.

Sanctuaries play a vital role in protecting and preserving this charismatic species by taking in orphaned chimps and gorillas, giving them medical attention and, most importantly, a safe home.

Bristol Zoo Gardens is a conservation and education charity and relies on the generous support of the public not only to fund its important work in the zoo, but also its vital conservation and research projects spanning five continents.

 

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