An Australian zookeeper is forging an unlikely bond with a baby gorilla who was shunned by his family at birth.
When Kaius was born at Mogo Wildlife Park in New South Wales, Australia last month, his father, Kisane, unexpectedly took him away from his mother, Kipenzi, during a vital bonding and feeding time. The tiny infant gorilla then developed sepsis pneumonia and nearly died.
The problems first arose when Kipenzi was taken for surgery to treat a retained placenta and dad Kisane decided to remove the infant gorilla from the area, head zookeeper Chad Staples revealed on Facebook.
“He was very gentle and caring with it, very attentive when it would make noises but would not return it,” Staples wrote. “We will never understand why he intervened like this, he may have known something was still not right with Kipenzi or he may have just wanted the baby to himself, regardless this was not the paternal role we needed from him.”
When zookeepers were finally able to retrieve the infant and return him back to his mother, Kipenzi was no longer interested in nurturing her young offspring.
“Unfortunately there is no interest shown whatsoever from mum as we watched in from the cameras,” Staples said. “We left as long as possible without further causing distress or harm. When the decision was made to retrieve him we were presented with challenge number 3 as his demeanor and color had changed. Over the next few hours, he began to crash.”
At this point, Staples took it upon himself to make Kaius’s care his “absolute focus.”
Over the course of the next few weeks, “Zookeeper Chad” began caring for the gorilla as its mother would, even using skin-to-skin contact as a means to soothe the newborn.
“Right now a lot of his care mimics the exact care you would give a human baby with all of his nutritional requirements, his hygiene and medical care but also in some ways most importantly his emotional care and development,” Staples wrote on Nov. 11. “Kaius needs to know he is loved and protected just like a baby and please know I am providing this now around the clock.”
He continued, “Thankfully I had built so much trust with the gorilla family prior to this that they truly can see and understand what I am doing with him and still see him still as some part of their family.”
Thanks to Staples’ care little Kaius is now making big strides and will be reacquainted with his biological family as he continues to grow.
“Our little Kaius has broken the 3kg [about 6.61 pounds] mark now and put on just over a kilo since birth,” said Staples in a Facebook update. “He is just so bright and full of life… he even drinks so quickly sometimes he gives himself the cutest hiccups.”