Shining a light on our animal mothers

A black female gorilla carrying an infant gorilla on her back in long grass. A black female gorilla carrying an infant gorilla on her back in long grass.

Despite the closures for the pandemic over the past couple of years life carried on behind our famous gates at Bristol Zoo Gardens and animals continued to be born.

They included two western lowland gorillas, two mouse deers, a two-toed sloth, and two squirrel monkeys of which nearly all are Endangered in the wild.

Their births each made headlines during 2020 and 2021 so we thought it was time we put the spotlight on their dedicated and loving caregivers, in celebration of Mother’s Day 2022. 

A black female gorilla with an infant gorilla on her back walking in the long grass.

Kind Kera 

Kera is the surrogate mother to our male western lowland gorilla Hasani, who is 18-months-old. 

Hasani was born in August 2020 but his biological mother Kala struggled to care for him. 

After many attempts to encourage Kala to look after Hasani, keepers made the difficult decision to hand-rear him. 

They ensured that little Hasani spent time beside a fence alongside the gorilla troop, where he could see, hear and smell his family. 

It soon became clear that Hasani had a keen and willing surrogate ready to look after him.

Kera, who is now 10, would sit alongside Hasani with just a gate between them. She would grunt and reach out to touch him – all signs of positive, mothering behaviour. 

As Hasani became stronger, keepers started the process of introducing him to the other gorillas, one by one. 

Today he and his surrogate mother Kera live together with the rest of the troop, and now Hasani also spends some of his time with his birth mother Kala. 

A success story, thanks to Kera and the expertise of our animal team.

A black female gorilla holding an infant gorilla sitting in grass.

Tender-loving Touni

Touni, our 12-year-old western lowland gorilla, gave birth to her second infant, a daughter called Juni, in December 2020.

Juni was born during the early hours of December 22 and is the daughter of Jock, our silverback who leads the troop. 

Touni also has another daughter, Ayana, who is five-years-old in April and still lives with the group.

Each birth of a western lowland gorilla is important because they are part of an important captive breeding programme to safeguard the future of the species.

In the wild they are listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and it is estimated that there are now just 360,000 of them across Central Africa.

Conservationists from Bristol Zoological Society are involved in a project at Parque Nacional de Monte Alén in Equatorial Guinea to help combat their decline in numbers. 

A tiny brown mouse deer with it's fawn. They both have white chests, pink ears and noses and orange hooves. They are standing in the undergrowth.

Beady-eyed Brienne 

Brienne, our eight-year-old mouse deer, has mothered two infants in the past year. The first, called Podena, was born in March and then six months later Otis arrived.

Altogether three Malayan mouse deer have been born at Bristol Zoo Gardens in the past decade. 

They are important because they help to sustain the captive population of mouse deer whose numbers in the wild are in sharp decline. 

They are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

A brown sloth with long hair with an infant sloth on her belly is hanging by her legs in a green wooden box.

Talented Trixie 

Trixie is a nine-year-old sloth who lives just inside the entrance of Bristol Zoo Gardens in an enclosure with 20-year-old Rio.

In April last year, she gave birth to an infant, Noco, named after the Orinoco River in South America.

Trixie is playing a crucial part in helping to ensure that two-toed sloths survive as their numbers in the wild are declining due to the loss of their rainforest homes. The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists them as Near Threatened.

A brown squirrel monkey with orange laegs and a white face and ears with an infant squirrel monkey on her back surrounded by leaves

Super squirrel monkeys

Two of Bristol Zoo Gardens’ bright-eyed squirrel monkeys gave birth to infants during 2021.

Ruby delivered Grogu in mid-September and less than a month later Lilith produced Naboo. The youngsters share the same dad, Gorse. 

They live with their fellow squirrel monkeys on an island in the heart of the Zoo.


Just like all mums, those at Bristol Zoo Gardens are very special and whether they are tiny mouse deers or magnificent gorillas they each have a place in our hearts.

Happy Mother’s Day to them all.

Now’s your last chance to visit before the Zoo’s last day 03.09.22

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Now’s your last chance to visit before the Zoo’s last day 03.09.22