SAN DIEGO — The gorilla born at the San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park is almost 4 months old and has been named Joanne, the zoo announced Thursday.
The gorilla was born March 12 when veterinarians performed a cesarean section on her mother, 18-year-old Imani. It was decided to forego a natural birth when Imani made no progress after showing signs of labor earlier in the day.
Joanne, named after Joanne Warren, the first chairwoman of the San Diego Zoo Global Foundation, struggled for several days after but is now healthy and has teeth, according to the zoo.
While the mother and her baby are usually inseparable, Imani has recently been letting Joanne sit and explore on her own.
Keepers report that Joanne has mastered rolling over onto her stomach and has gotten comfortable propping herself up on all fours and scooting forward.
While she’s not yet eating solid foods, the young gorilla has been chewing and mouthing at items in her reach, such as acacia browse and other greens like lettuce and kale, which helps with the teething process.
“While Imani is eating browse, we’ve seen Joanne grab a handful and mouth it,” Jami Pawlowski, a keeper at the Safari Park said. “She’s got about six teeth now so it’s not quite enough to chew browse, but she definitely mouths and will suck on it — anything big and attractive that her mom is holding Joanne will try to investigate.”
The young gorilla is now confident riding on her mother’s back and will grip onto her hair while Imani forages and moves around the exhibit.
Keepers report that around three months is when gorilla babies start to display that behavior, so Joanne is right on track with her development.