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Human ‘moms’ dote on baby gorilla

Gladys, a baby gorilla, is getting round-the-clock tender care from a team of zoo workers after being moved to Cincinnati.

David Jenike /Cincinnati Zoo/AP

Gladys, a baby gorilla, is getting round-the-clock tender care from a team of zoo workers after being moved to Cincinnati.

CINCINNATI — Some zoo workers in Cincinnati are wearing all-black outfits, grunting affectionately, and generally imitating mother gorillas to help a month-old baby adjust to a new home and get ready for a surrogate mother.

Later, they will don hairy vests and carry baby Gladys on their backs, put on kneepads and gloves to move around like a gorilla, and they might knuckle-walk and climb a tree with baby on board.

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Even though some of Gladys’s mamas are men, they are trying to give her a mother’s love. They cuddle her, let her hang on them, lie down next to her, and talk to her with guttural sounds.

‘‘Whatever a gorilla mom would do with her baby is what we have to do with this baby,’’ said Ron Evans, the primate team leader. ‘‘Everything that we can do . . . obviously, I’m not producing milk.’’

He is heading a team of seven to 10 people who work in shifts of eight hours or so to provide the baby with 24-hour companionship. She came from a zoo in Texas, where she was born Jan. 29 to a first-time mother who showed little maternal instinct.

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