Teaching captive gorillas the ropes

November 13, 2006

The Columbus Zoo in Ohio uses humans as surrogate mothers to baby gorillas so the babies can learn nurturing and become caring parents themselves.

The program seeks to break a 50-year cycle of gorillas born in captivity that never learned how to be good mothers, zoo officials say.

Primate nursery keeper Barb Jones, 68, is at the program's forefront. Her latest charge is Umande, who arrived from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, Colo., after being rejected by his mother, The Columbus Dispatch reported Monday.

Since early October, Jones and six other zoo workers have been eating, sleeping and playing with 8-month-old Umande.

The program reduces to months from years the time it takes a gorilla to become part of a pack, the Dispatch said.

As dedicated as she is to the program, Jones draws the line at trimming a baby gorilla's toenails and fingernails with her teeth, as a real gorilla mom does.

"We use clippers," she told the newspaper.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Conservation work in zoos is too random, scientists warn

Related Stories

Conservation work in zoos is too random, scientists warn

January 15, 2014

The world's zoos work hard and spend enormous resources on the conservation of endangered species, but the resources are not always optimally spent. One big problem is international legislation and the need of more zoos to ...

New evidence: AIDS-like disease in wild chimpanzees

July 22, 2009

An international consortium has found that wild chimpanzees naturally infected with Simian Immunodeficiency Viruses (SIV) - long thought to be harmless to the apes - can contract an AIDS-like syndrome and die as a result. ...

Saving devils, in a single disease-free corner of Tasmania

May 21, 2016

Drive over one narrow isthmus in Tasmania, and then another, and you'll reach the last place on Earth where wild Tasmanian devils live apart from a contagious cancer that threatens the fearsome marsupials' existence. Conservationists ...

Recommended for you

New paper answers causation conundrum

November 17, 2017

In a new paper published in a special issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, SFI Professor Jessica Flack offers a practical answer to one of the most significant, and most confused questions in evolutionary ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.