Orphan Baby Gorillas Rescued From Poachers

Two baby gorillas were rescued from poachers in separate incidents in September in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and are being cared for at a shelter in Virunga National Park. Isangi is about nine months old, and Baraka is around five months old. The gorillas are being fed human formula, and steps are taken to ensure they don't catch any human diseases.

"Gorilla mothers are very attentive toward their babies," Eddy Kambale said. "The mothers feed them, sleep with them, carry them on their chest or back, groom and clean them, watch them, and protect them against predators, and even rain, at all times."

In the sanctuary, the orphans spend time outside in the forest yard, but mostly their caretakers carry them, as their mothers would. The caretakers use gorilla vocalizations to calm the infants.

"If no one will try to imitate their mothers' behaviors, the infant gorillas can shortly die from stress, as they are very fragile," Kambale said.

When they are deemed healthy enough, the gorillas will be taken to the sanctuary GRACE (Gorilla Conservation and Rehabilitation Education Center), which is operated by the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International. There, they will be integrated into a gorilla family in preparation for eventual release. See lots more pictures at National Geographic News. Link  -Thanks, Marilyn Terrell!

(Image credit: LuAnne Cadd, Virunga National Park)

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