Baby Gorilla's Recovery 'Amazing,' Lincoln Park Zoo Officials Say

By Paul Biasco on March 22, 2013 6:38am | Updated on March 22, 2013 10:06am

LINCOLN PARK — Nayembi, the Lincoln Park Zoo baby gorilla who was seriously injured about a month ago, has moved back to her exhibit area, but has not yet rejoined her troop.

The progress over the last few weeks "has been amazing," zoo President Kevin Bell said.

The 4-month-old Western lowland gorilla moved back into her normal behind-the-scenes space in the Regenstein Center for African Apes on March 13 and has made visual contact with her mother Rollie, according to a statement from Bell.

Nayembi is "just a couple feet" from her mother, but the zoo is holding off on physical contact because Rollie would likely want to inspect her child, who is still healing in some areas on her face.

It is still unclear what happened to Nayembi, but when zoo workers found her in her mother's arms on Feb. 20 she had suffered a major facial cut and significant injuries to the bones in her upper jaw, according to Megan Ross, the zoo's vice president of animal care.

"Nayembi’s face has regained much of its normal color. The good news isn’t limited to appearances either, as she continues to show a hearty appetite for food — and play!" Bell wrote in a statement released Thursday.

Zoo staff reported that Rollie has shown a lot of interest in Nayembi and watches her play.

To make up for Nayembi's lack of contact with her troop, workers caring for her are acting "more gorilla than human," according to Bell, and are mimicking behaviors and routines by resting, playing, grunting, exploring and eating on the gorillas' established schedules.

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