Baby gorilla reaching milestones at Jacksonville Zoo

Keepers teaching important skills so baby Gandai can rejoin mom, troop

Jacksonville Zoo
Jacksonville Zoo

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The newest addition to the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens' nursery is growing and thriving, reaching milestones that could have her rejoin her family soon.

The zoo's 4-month-old gorilla, Gandai, now weighs 10 pounds and has a mouth full of teeth.

"Gandai is a feisty little primate who is known to pinch or nibble like a human infant would," Zoo officials said. "Her keepers have been both teaching her gorilla manners and practicing healthy play with her. She enjoys playing with a mirror toy and tummy tickle time. These are ways keepers have been filling the role of mother while they have been caring for Gandai." 

Dedicated gorilla keepers have spent the last four months preparing Gandai (pronounced like gone-day) for the time she can rejoin her mother Kumbuka (pronounced like come-boo-kha) and the rest of the Western lowland gorilla troop.

Before the infant can be reintroduced, she needs to achieve specific milestones, including walking, taking a bottle through mesh, the ability to hold on when being carried, and various developmental criteria.

Keepers are proud to say Gandai has been making great strides in reaching these goals. 

Gandai’s keepers have taken turns providing around-the-clock care since the decision was made to remove her from the troop out of concern for her safety due to the way Kumbuka was carrying her. 

The Zoo is planning for the reunion with Kumbuka and the troop within the next several months. Gandai has been raised in close proximity to her group since her birth in September.

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