LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Her face and her story have stolen hearts. The Louisville Zoo's baby girl gorilla, Kindi, was orphaned on March 14, when her mom Mia Moja died shortly after giving birth to her.
For months, the zoo has been taking calls from people wanting to know how baby Kindi is doing and when they can see her.
Zoo staffers were getting a little concerned for a while when a gorilla they thought would take over a parental role seemed to lose interest in Kindi. But, they tell us as soon as that happened, another mother stepped in and appears to be a perfect match.
"There they are," a zoo visitor yelled, "there's the baby!"
Looking like they've been together forever, baby Kindi and her surrogate mother Kweli (pronounced Quay-Lee) strolled into the exhibit to a crowd of 'oohs and ahhs' as the now 6-month-old baby is attached to Kweli and isn't letting go.
"She's really found her mom and we're just ecstatic about it," Assistant Louisville Zoo Mammal Curator Jill Katka said.
Since March, human staffers took over the maternal role by wearing furry vests, putting Kindi on their backs and feeding her.
Their hopes were pinned on Paki, the dominant gorilla in the group that showed some initial love for Kindi. But, Paki started losing interest. "She wasn't as attentive as she needed to be," Katka said.
All of a sudden, Kweli, a 32-year-old gorilla who had had three sons, stepped in and it was clear - she always wanted a girl.
"When Kweli first picked Kindi up, she walked over to her and she scooped her up and she held her and it was the most natural thing ever," Katka gushed. "It's like there's a baby and there's a mother gorilla with her baby."
A load of worries instantly washed away from Kindi's human family.
"Everybody just took a big sigh of relief. We thought, we just know this right. So that night I just went home and I slept. We all felt like this is it, this is great. Kweli is going to be her mom!"
Together now for about a month, their bond is getting stronger. Zoo visitors getting a sneak peak of mom and baby couldn't stop looking.
Kellan McLaughlin, a young student at Christian Academy, told us, "I thought it was just incredible that they are like bonding so well together. It's like heart touching to just be together and they look so great!"
Giada Hutchinson, 5, agreed. "I think it was really cute!"
When will you be able to see mom and baby together? Zoo officials say the dynamic duo still needs more bonding time and time to get comfortable in the exhibits. So, while you may get a glimpse of Kindi here and there, it will be a little while before she's a regular. The zoo plans to put out a schedule in the future for Kindi as she continues to get used to her environment.