Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Ape-napping attempt by twins' mom foiled at Zoo Atlanta

Maybe eight is enough, but twins apparently are not — at least not for Kuchi, the 21-year-old gorilla at Zoo Atlanta who gave birth to a rare pair on Halloween night.

On Tuesday, Kuchi, seemingly flush with maternal ambition, hijacked another newborn primate. If zoo staff had not intervened, it would have gone down as a historic ape-napping.

The newest gorilla, it turns out, was born to Lulu, the 6-year-old offspring of Willie B., the famous zoo mascot who died in 2000 at age 42.

Thus, the baby Kuchi briefly "adopted" is the beloved icon's first grandchild.

And now it's back with its rightful mother. Zoo staffers gave Kuchi a knockout shot at about 1 p.m. Tuesday and, while she snoozed, returned the new male gorilla to Lulu.

In the process, they also took the twins from Kuchi to check on their health. At that point, they were able to determine the twins' gender, which had been impossible while Kuchi was nursing them.

It's a boy and a girl.

The decision to intervene was not made hastily, but rather a few hours after Kuchi grabbed Lulu's baby, which was born Monday night.

"Two's enough and there's no way Kuchi could feed all three," zoo spokeswoman Susan Elliott said.

All the gorillas are fine, Elliott added.

Story here.

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