Rejected by her own mother, humans have swooped in to raise a baby gorilla, and they're even dressing up for the role.
After the gorilla was rejected by her mother in a Texas zoo, she was transported to Ohio's Cincinnati Zoo, where zookeepers are acting as surrogates to prepare her for life among gorillas. WLWT Cincinnati reports that zookeepers are donning gorilla-like outfits and mimicking animal noises to help the four-week-old.
“Gorillas have about 13 different vocalizations, so you need to know how to speak to the baby given whatever the circumstance is," Cincinnati Zoo's Ron Evans told ABC News. The surrogates will work in eight hour shifts around the clock for a series of months, before hopefully a gorilla takes over the parenting role.
According to WWF, gorillas are threatened by habitat destruction and the bushmeat trade, and their low rate of reproduction poses an additional challenge to the survival of the species. IUCN Red List classifies all gorillas as endangered species, adding, "There are two primary drivers of rapid western lowland gorilla decline: commercial hunting and the Ebola virus."
"Despite its massive size and ferocious reputation, the gorilla is actually a peaceful and social animal," the Cincinnati Zoo writes on its website, adding, "Gorillas and humans are close relatives, and share many things in common. They are very intelligent, have emotions and personalities, and live in family groups."
Check out the Cincinnati Zoo's video below of the baby gorilla's arrival: