Sunday, August 11, 2013

Gorilla Babie Update - OR Not

As of Friday (Aug 9), it will have been three weeks since the Zoo posted an update about the Babie Gorilla born to Nneka on July 17th.   There was one article, on one news source that came out on July 24, yet the information in that article was never even posted to the Zoo's own Social Media sites.  I made a post to my other blog that day:

>> > July 24, 2013 - There has still been no update from the Zoo via their website or Facebook page, in regards to the babie Gorilla. The last word was on Friday morning, five days ago.  Its very curious, considering they made the announcement that she had been born, and there was a video.  That said, while there on Monday I did hear that while all the Gorillas are interested in the babie, coming in to see it and touch it, Nneka has not shown a "mothering" interest and the Staff is taking care of her.  Further information produced that, going the way of using Bawang as surrogate would probably be what would happen if Nneka did not take interest soon.   I didn't post this because I didn't think it was my place to, until there was definite word on what the plan would be.  With still no word from the Zoo on Social Media sites, this article did come today via Google News alert, confirming the information I got.  ... I'm looking forward to seeing the babie on the video, like they did with Hasani and what I had hoped they would do with Tiger Cubbie.

Since the Tiger Cub birth I have started to check the Zoo's Facebook page a couple times a week.  Over the past three weeks, several people have asked for updates on the Gorilla Babie.  All but one had gone unanswered.  The only Zoo only replied to one inquiry on July 29 and said:   "Gorilla baby is great, thanks for asking. Updates soon"

With another week passed and no still no update from the Zoo, this was posted by user Nica Doodle:
"What about our gorilla baby fix? It's been 2 weeks, and not a single word? I don't understand. It's no secret that mom isn't raising her, we got pictures/video of Hasani early on, didn't we? Sorry for the frustration, but people have been asking about her for weeks, and we were promised an update "soon", did I miss it?"

The answer is no.  She didn't miss it, there has been no update.  

We all ask the SFZoo,  Why has there been no updates?

While other Zoo's are on babie watches, have live dens cams, and get Animal updates, our Zoo seems to always hide behind a veil.  Everything is so secretive, it breeds curiosity.   Like I noted, they haven't even posted information that was in a news article.  

When will this camera stream be set-up?  I was in the Lion House last week and the Video Monitor that was used for the Tiger Cub (which I assume will be the one used) was still in there.  Its not in use so why hasn't it been set-up yet?  

That all said, I was also told this week that the Keepers started taking the Babie out in the morning before the Zoo opens, why haven't they posted any photos of that?   I remember they did this when Hasani was born. Keepers told me they brought him out to get Vitamin D from the natural light.  It was so exciting to see him so tiny!  Here are a couple of my photos :)  ... I'm sure people would be thrilled to see more photos of the new Babie!

 Babie Hasani  2009

As stated by Nica Doodle, the silence surrounding this Babie is curious, considering the birth was not only made public, but in front of the public.  One has to even wonder, if it was not witnessed by Visitors, would they even have announced this birth?   

UPDATE: Sunday August 18, 2013 -  I meant to make this update after my visit on Tues (8/13), but didn't get to it.  Doesn't seem to matter, as the Zoo has still not made any mention of the Gorilla babie on any of their Social Media sites.  This past Friday, marks week four of no word and yesterday, August 17th makes the babie now one month old. 

Not sure when this sign went up, but it wasn't there on Monday the 5th, but was on Tues the 13th.  Per this sign, I guess there will be NO info til the babie is ready to be on view?   Not sure whatever happened to the video they were going to put outside the exhibit.  Maybe it will be there tomorrow.



  1. Thanks for your insight on the baby gorilla birth. It's very intriguing how little information is known. The secrecy of the Zoo needs to end and they need to come out in the media more often to explain what goes on in the Zoo. On the other hand, do you know of a reason why the mother gorillas are not caring for the babies?

    1. @ellicruu- Thank you for your comment. You are right, the secrecy should end. It stuns me that the Zoo thinks keeping things from the public is the right thing to do. If all is on the up and up there, then being forth coming should be a given. That said, not sure what the issue is, but they also do not have very educated PR or spokespeople so that doesn't help. ... I'm not an Animal professional, but as someone who does try to educate myself on topics of interest, my guess would be inexperience and no examples previously set. Both Monifa, mother of Hasani, and Nneka were first time moms. I don't know the situation of the troop Monifa came from, but Nneka was the last born at the Zoo before Hasani, so she did not see any other Gorillas demonstrating mothering skills. Hasani never nursed from the surrogate mom Bawang, so she could very well think that its natural? for the Keepers to bottlefeed the babie? I did initially hear that she nursed the babie once, but then that seemed to not be accurate the more I heard. Its not a big deal to have to bottle feed a captive born Animal, I read about many, so why there hasn't been more detail as to the chain of event going on is kind of ridiculous. Those of us who care are interested.

  2. Thanks for answering my question, that was what I was assuming because offspring rearing for certain animals is learned and not instinctual. It should be (enforced by AZA or some other zoo regulatory organization) that these species (gorillas and others) have experience with offspring rearing seen from an elder before having a baby. I think that would make things complicated, but remembering the video on the baby's birth, Nneka seemed confused with giving birth, so it may be worth it if they are to have more babies later. I understand in a zoo environment, the difficulties are greater, but it may be necessary for the mental health of the gorillas to cope with initial abandonment.

    1. Your welcome. I too in hindsight wonder why they don't choose to breed Bawang. Yes her genetics have been passed on in at least three offspring, but not with Jonesy. The other thing that I heard was that Jonesy has a breeding recommendation with two females, I assume it to be Nneka and Monifa. That said, if true, wonder if both females were due at the same time and the Zoo ended up having to hand raise/surrogate two babies? ... In ref to learning versus instinct. I have to think that in some species instinct does play into it. Tigers are solitary so they don't see other Tigers (at least not in captivity) give birth. .. I have wondered, with the level of Human related intelligence, if showing videos of both Primates, and Humans giving birth and nursing, ect. would that help in the future parenting? .. Have you seen the footage of the Orangutan at Durell Wildlife that gave birth not long before Nneka? Its amazing! The way she knows to clear the airways is incredible. ...

  3. very strange indeed. and why does the LA Times have an extended article and knowledge when nothing has been printed locally - or has it?

    maybe they're keeping it quiet until they decide how to get the most money they can from naming the new baby.

    in any event, best of luck to the new baby, mama nneka, grandmother bawang, and the gorilla keepers!

    1. @hazel- Thank you for your comment. ... I didn't see any other article after the initial birth announcements, except for the LA Times one. Which is strange. ... Who knows what the thought process is behind this or anything else they do that's curious. ... I have been told the babie is well, so hopefully the Zoo will let everyone know that soon and provide some photos and progress reports.

  4. The Zoo keeps pregnancies secret because it is under much more scrutiny by the AZA and USDA than most other zoos due to the 2007 tiger attacks. Animal pregnancies often go wrong which is why the Zoo wants to keep them under wraps until they can confirm that there will be a positive outcome, which is why they are most likely not giving baby gorilla updates as frequently as they could be.

    1. @Alex- Thank you for your comment. I appreciate your seemingly "official" information. I also have figured such, but it still makes no sense. This birth was in public so its not a secret. As well, all pregnancies, births, and deaths are documented in the Joint Zoo meeting minutes. Anyone who wants to know what's going on, can find out. Waiting for "positive outcomes" just shows insecurity in their abilities. If things happen naturally, then there should not be any reason to fear. As for the Zoo being under "more scrutiny", that is rightfully so. There has been many suspicious deaths in recent times. Unfortunately the AZA and USDA only has the documented information to go by and frankly its my opinion that its not always the actual truth.

  5. lee "a tigers best friend"August 18, 2013 at 4:41 PM

    Secrecy breeds suspicion. It's way out of character in this instance but then zoo management is weird. The zoo usually loves to capitalize on major animal births. The secrecy after weeks and weeks just doesn't sound right especially since the baby is several weeks old now.

    1. @lee - Thank you for your comment. ... You right. AND this is the same situation as was with Hasani and they talked about him all the time.


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