For some people, the name Kindi will elicit quite an emotional response.
The baby gorilla made headlines last year back in March for her tragic birth. Her mother died bringing her into the world, leaving Kindi an orphan who seemed destined to never know the love of a parent.
Kindi has been taken care of by the Louisville Zoo, which documented her life through a series of Youtube progress videos. The young gorilla has been growing and learning the ways of the world, however there always lingered that parental void in her life.
Staff at the Louisville Zoo had been trying to get a different gorilla to take over the role of a parent for Kindi, but so far their attempts had been unsuccessful. One gorilla from the group seemed to latch on to Kindi for a time, but in the end appeared to have lost interest in the infant.
Some of the staff members were starting to give up hope in finding a new mother for Kindi—until Kweli stepped in.
— Louisville Zoo (@LouisvilleZoo) February 20, 2017
The zoo’s staff explained that there was an instant connection between the two mammals.
“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,” Jill Katka, the Assistant Louisville Zoo Mammal Curator, explained to Wave 3 News. “It’s like there’s a baby and there’s a mother gorilla with her baby.”
Louisville Zoo says 6mo Kindi and her new surrogate mom, Kweli, get along well. In Gorilla Forest dayroom today. pic.twitter.com/KlNTCZ7aXL
— Mark Vanderhoff (@WLKYMark) September 21, 2016
It’s not uncommon amongst mammals for one to “adopt” a younger one who’s lost their parents. And such was the case with Kindi and Kweli, who quickly slipped into her role as a surrogate mother.
“She’s really found her mom and we’re just ecstatic about it,” said Katka.
The turn of events was a welcome change for zoo staffers. They had worried about Kindi and her wellbeing without a parent to show her the ropes, in the way only a fellow gorilla can.
“Everybody just took a big sigh of relief,” Katka went on to say. “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’s going to be her mom.”
Baby Kindi is now bounding around her Gorilla Forest habitat while sticking closely to Kweli, her surrogate mother. https://t.co/VXc3QQiY7l
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) March 15, 2017
Now with a proper mother, Kindi is spending her time under the tutelage of Kweli’s leadership. With Kindi now in much better spirits, staffers are hoping to see her develop into a fine, strong, and beautiful adult gorilla.
For those who have made the trip specifically to visit the pair, of which there are said to be many, they have come back sharing comments on Kindi’s touching story, and how happy they are together.
“I thought it was just incredible that they are like bonding so well together,” Kellan McLaughlin, one of the visitors, shared. “It’s like heart-touching to just be together and they look so great!”
— Courier Journal (@courierjournal) March 14, 2017
You can see more videos of Kindi interacting with Kewli by checking out the Louisville Zoo Youtube page.