Kindi, the Louisville Zoo's orphaned gorilla, turns 1

Published: Mar. 12, 2017 at 12:59 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 14, 2017 at 10:58 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A very special baby is turning one this week and you are invited to the party!  Kindi, the baby gorilla is turning one on Tuesday.

Kindi was born via an emergency cesarean section on March 14, 2016.  Her mother, Mia Moja, passed away the next day from complications.  Gorilla Forest keepers spent months diligently caring for Kindi acting as surrogate mothers teaching her how to be a gorilla.

>> SLIDESHOW: Kindi, the Louisville Zoo's orphaned gorilla

Keepers wore furry vests that provided a gorilla feel and something to grip as infant gorillas hang on to their mothers for transport, they also mimicked gorilla movements and vocalizations and bottle fed Kindi.  Once Kindi reached certain milestones, she was introduced to her gorilla surrogate Kweli. The two have been together since August of 2016.

In September, WAVE 3 News spoke to Animal Curator Jill Katka about how the two were bonding. Kweli is in her 30's; she's had 3 sons. Kweli stepped in and it was clear she always wanted a girl.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: Baby gorilla Kindi finally finds her mom

"When Kweli first picked Kindi up she walked over to her and she scooped her up and she held her," Katka said. "It was the most natural thing ever it's like there's a baby there's a mother gorilla with her baby."

Western lowland gorillas are considered critically endangered with 100,000 estimated to be left in the remnant wild.

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On Tuesday, the zoo will provide an update on gorilla Kindi's first year of life with her keeper surrogates and her gorilla surrogate Kweli.  There will also be a public birthday celebration on Tuesday at 2 p.m. at Gorilla Forest.

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