Watch The First Baby Gorilla in 15 Years Being Born at Melbourne Zoo

Newborn gorilla at Melbourne Zoo undergoes a medical check-up and reacts to the coldness of the stethoscope. The baby gorilla that stole our hearts 15 years ago has reached adulthood. Yakini, who barely survived his first few hours, is now the dominant gorilla at Werribee Open Range Zoo.

The captivating pictures of Yakini continue to mesmerize us, including this one.

Yakini, before being named, receives a check-up from a neonatal specialist. Ulli Weihen, a senior primate keeper at Melbourne Zoo, who hand-raised Yakini, described him as a “strapping young silverback.” Teams of doctors from the Royal Children’s Hospital and the Royal Women’s Hospital worked tirelessly to keep him alive after he was born via caesarean section without a heartbeat. “It was a critical situation for a while,” Ms. Weihen said.

Yakini with keeper Ulli Weihen

Yakini was bottle-fed, and Ms. Weihen taught him how to behave like a gorilla. “It involved us crawling around on the floor, teaching him how to climb on his mother’s back,” she said. He has grown into a muscular 170kg beast, while retaining his mother’s gentle and relaxed personality. In 2011, Yakini moved to Werribee to join his father Motaba and brother Ganyeka. Keeper Kat Thompson revealed that Yakini has recently taken over the leadership role from his father.

Yakini is now the head of the pack. Picture: David Caird.

“As Yakini matured, it was natural for him to challenge his father for the position of the group’s leader,” she said. “The challenge took place over several months, but it was very subtle—a battle of wills rather than a battle of brawn.” Yakini now enjoys the privileges of his new role, such as eating first and choosing his preferred spots.

“It’s a rewarding sight to witness the fruits of our hard work,” Ms. Weihen said.

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