Jameela, premature gorilla born via rare c-section, accepted by surrogate mother after zoo transfer

In February, Jameela, a prematurely-born baby gorilla, made headlines after a rare c-section delivery at Texas’ Fort Worth Zoo. Initially, Jameela faced a tough start when her mother, Sekani, rejected her. The zoo urgently sought a surrogate, leading to an inspiring update.

Jameela was born to 33-year-old western lowland gorilla Sekani, who unexpectedly began showing signs of preeclampsia in early January. After diagnosing this serious condition, the zoo decided on an emergency c-section to save both mother and baby. The procedure, uncommon in gorillas but similar to human c-sections, was performed successfully with the help of local obstetrician Dr. Jamie Walker Erwin and a team of experts.

Despite the successful surgery, Jameela, born 4-6 weeks premature, required immediate intensive care. She received round-the-clock support and eventually stabilized. Named Jameela, meaning “beautiful” in Swahili and a tribute to Dr. Erwin, the baby gorilla began her recovery journey.

Sekani also recovered well, but attempts to reunite her with Jameela failed. Sekani, likely missing the hormonal cues from a natural birth, showed no interest in her baby. The zoo then introduced Jameela to another female gorilla, Gracie, but this attempt was also unsuccessful. Consequently, Jameela was transferred to Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, in hopes of finding a suitable surrogate.

The transfer proved successful. The Cleveland zoo’s gorilla troop responded positively to Jameela, with multiple gorillas showing interest. Fredricka, a proven surrogate, bonded well with Jameela. “Freddy immediately went in and picked her up. It was the biggest sigh of relief,” said Laura Klutts, associate animal curator.

Jameela’s dramatic start has led to a hopeful new chapter, with her now in good hands. “To see what that looks like in a successful way, it brought tears to my eyes,” said Angie Holmes, primary gorilla keeper at Fort Worth Zoo.

We’re thrilled Jameela has found a loving surrogate mom. Please share this inspiring update! ❤️

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