After six months of behind-the-scenes recovery at Lincoln Park Zoo, a baby gorilla severely attacked by another ape returned to exhibit on Thursday.
Nayembi was 3 months old in February when she suffered severe cuts to her face. Zoo officials said at the time they're not sure what caused the injury, although it appeared to have been inflicted by another gorilla.
She was immediately removed from the exhibit to undergo reconstructive surgery at the zoo's hospital. Nayembi remained under 24-hour care while recovering over the past few months.
As part of the reintroduction process, the young gorilla will be joined by her parents, playmate Patty and her mother Bana on exhibit.
“Nayembi is doing remarkably well, and the careful reintroduction process has gone according to plan for all of them so far,” Curator of primates Maureen Leahy said. “The process is delicate. We are watching the gorillas’ behavior closely and their behavior guides our timing and decisions about reintroduction.”
Two other female gorillas, Susie and Bahati, are living in the exhibit next to Nayembi and will be reintegrated into the habitat after the adjustment period.
The baby was separated from her mother Rollie, 16, but remained in the Regenstein Center for African Apes in close proximity for several months leading up to their reunion in July.