Be a Miraculous Part of Our Zoo Family!
By now, you’ve likely heard that a baby Western lowland gorilla was born at the Zoo this summer. This healthy baby boy arrived on August 14, born to mom Asha and dad Rafiki. What you might not know is the long and arduous road that Zoo keepers, veterinarians and community physicians traveled to make sure his birth was possible. Because they’re an endangered species, all Western lowland gorilla births are special. But this birth was more than special. It was nothing short of a miracle.
In February 2011, Primate World keepers could tell that something was wrong. Asha was acting lethargic and was in obvious pain. She was clutching her abdomen and was unwilling to eat. Despite the best efforts of our veterinary team, we weren’t sure what was wrong with Asha.
It was then that our veterinary team called in reinforcements. Reaching out to specialists from all over Colorado, and many from our own Memorial Hospital, our staff assembled the best possible team of local experts to find and solve the “Asha Problem.” From throughout the Front Range, medical professionals came in droves to help. Doctors and nurses donated not only their exceptional expertise, but also their time and resources to make sure that Asha would be okay.
What they found when they arrived was not good. Asha’s appendix had ruptured, which is something that could be difficult to handle on its own. To complicate the issue, the ruptured appendix had adhered itself to Asha’s right ovary. After hours of surgery, the difficult decision was made to remove the ovary. You see, because gorillas are classified as critically endangered, the captive breeding of this incredible species is of utmost importance. The removal of the ovary could very well mean that Asha, a successful one-time mother who was one of Zoo’s best candidates for reproduction, might not be able to conceive ever again.
We know that our number one job is to do what’s right for the animal. So the team removed the appendix and the ovary, treated Asha, and held their breath. And something miraculous happened. In December of 2011, keepers became cautiously optimistic when Asha produced a positive pregnancy test. We held our breath. In April, our veterinary team, again with the assistance of local medical experts, performed an ultrasound on Asha. It was true. She was pregnant! But questions still remained. Would she be able to carry the baby to term? How would a delivery affect Asha? We did all we could to ensure that we were giving Asha and the baby the best possible chance. And then we waited.
Asha’s son, Dembe, was born in the early morning of August 14. When keepers came in that day, she was already nursing and caring gently for her new baby, while dad Rafiki kept a close eye on his family. Our “miracle baby” was here.
If it weren’t for the tremendously caring and generous health care professionals in our community, this perfect baby gorilla would never have been born. In fact, if it weren’t for them, Asha likely wouldn’t be alive. It is this kind of partnership that allows Cheyenne Mountain Zoo to provide first class care for all the animals in our collection. It’s also community partnerships that allow us to provide memories for a lifetime to our guests, in many cases sparking a love of the natural world for the first time.
We are so proud of our partnerships throughout this great community, and we hope you’ll consider joining this remarkable community partnership by supporting the Zoo’s annual fund. A gift of any amount will allow us to do the critical work in the fields of conservation, education and animal care that we do best.
Be a miraculous part of our Zoo family. Please join the Zoo community in supporting the annual fund today.
President & CEO
For more informationContact Kelley Parker, Major Gifts and Planned Giving Manager, at 719-633-9925 ext. 164
or email email@example.com.