SEATTLE (AP) – A gorilla baby was seriously injured at the Seattle zoo on Saturday when she was caught in a small battle between members of her family group, the zoo keeper said.
Animal health experts at Woodland Park Zoo said, small Kitoko was bitten by his head, possibly due to an accident when another gorilla tried to bite his mother, Uzumma. Kitoko suffered a skull fracture and severe laceration, but zoo officials said the 2-month-old gorilla underwent surgery and could recover fully if he did not have an infection.
“We are very optimistic for a full recovery and hope to return Kitoko to her mother today,” Dr. Darin Collins, director of zoo animal health, said in a statement prepared on Sunday. “Over the next two weeks, we will maintain a rigorous assessment for signs of infection or bleeding resulting in neurological deficits.”
The gorilla guards did not see a fight between western lowland gorillas, but security cameras showed it happened just before 8 am in the animal’s bedroom. The zoo keeper noticed the baby’s wound about 10 minutes later, and Kitoko appeared to breastfeed and behave normally afterwards.
The Kitoko family group included his mother and three other women, as well as his cowardly, Kwame father.
“Gorillas tend to be gentle giants but conflicts between family members do occur, in zoos and in nature,” said Woodland Park Zoo mammal curator Martin Ramirez. “Conflict can involve biting and pushing among individuals. We suspect that one adult woman might have accidentally bit the baby while engaged in battle with Uzumma. “
The zoo brought in a team of consultants for pediatric neurosurgery from Seattle Children’s Hospital to evaluate Kitoko’s injury and operationally repair his wound. Ramirez said Kitoko would likely be returned to his mother and father, with the three temporarily separated from other family members.
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