Baby gorilla takes first steps under mother’s watchful eye

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A baby gorilla is starting to find his feet as he learns to walk.

Little Kukena is still tiny and has not left his mother’s side in the seven months since he was born at Bristol Zoo.

But now he has started taking his first tentative steps and is growing in confidence.

Although still very wobbly, the western lowland gorilla can pull himself up on to his back legs and can walk on all fours, under the watchful eye of his mother, Salome.

Mammal keeper Alan Toyne said: “Kukena is making fantastic progress and is developing well.

“It’s great to see him starting to walk and becoming more independent, although he will be reliant on mum for a long while yet.

“He is getting more and more active but still stays very close to Salome who is still very protective, particularly when the other gorillas are around.”

As well as getting physically stronger, Kukena is also starting to nibble on soft foods such as banana in addition to drinking Salome’s milk, which he will continue to take until he is around three years old.

As well as Salome and Kukena, Bristol Zoo’s Gorilla Island is also home to silverback Jock, who is father to Kukena; Namoki, six; Komale, five; Kera, seven; and Romina, the zoo’s other adult female gorilla.

The name Kukena means “to love” and comes from the language of the Lunda Tribe from north west Zambia.

The Bristol gorillas are part of an conservation breeding programme for the endangered western lowland gorilla.