- Afia the western lowland gorilla was born by emergency caesarean section at Bristol Zoo ten months ago
- Her mother Kera, 11, suffered life-threatening pre-eclampsia, causing high blood pressure and fluid retention
- It took Kera eight-and-a-half months to recover from anaemia and is not well enough to care for Afia
- She will now be cared for by Romina, one of the older females in the group of gorillas in Bristol Zoo
Everyone needs a great big cuddle sometimes, and Afia the baby gorilla more than most.
Her mother has been too ill to look after her since her birth by emergency caesarean ten months ago, so Afia was hand-reared by keepers.
But things are looking up for the youngster thanks to the loving bond she has formed with a furry foster parent who is always ready with a reassuring hug.
Afia, right, pictured with her surrogate mother Romina, left, in Bristol Zoo yesterday has survived her first 10-months of life
The little gorilla was hand-reared by keepers at Bristol Zoo as her mother was unable to care for her
Afia, the western lowland gorilla faced an uncertain future after she was hand-reared over whether she would be accepted
Afia was photographed yesterday snuggling up in the arms of protective Romina, one of the older females in the troop of six Western lowland gorillas at Bristol Zoo, as it was confirmed the infant has fully integrated with her fellow primates and is now spending 24 hours a day with them.
The zoo's curator of animals Lynsey Bugg said: 'Since her birth in February, our team has worked tirelessly to hand-rear Afia 24/7 while being mindful to ensure human imprinting was kept to a minimum.
'Our ultimate goal has always been to reunite Afia with her gorilla family, so we all feel immensely proud and relieved to now see her where she belongs.
'After such an eventful year, it's wonderful to watch Afia with her new family. We know each of the gorillas so well and are really proud of them all.'
She was born successfully by an emergency caesarean with the help of Prof David Cahill, a consultant gynaecologist
Afia, pictured, had to be revived by a vet when she was born weighing just 2lb and 10oz after a troubled pregnancy
Afia's mother Kera suffered from life-threatening pre-eclampsia which caused high blood pressure and fluid retention
Afia, whose name means 'Friday-born child' in Ghanian, was the first gorilla in the UK - and one of fewer than ten in the world - to be born successfully by emergency caesarean when she was delivered at the zoo with the help of Professor David Cahill, a gynaecologist from nearby St Michael's Hospital.
During her perilous start in life, the baby, born weighing just 2lb 10oz, had to be resuscitated by a vet before she finally took her first breath.
The operation was necessary because her mother Kera, 11, suffered potentially life-threatening pre-eclampsia, which affects gorillas in the same way it does pregnant women, causing high blood pressure and fluid retention.
With Kera too poorly to raise Afia, keepers stepped in to care for her round the clock. They have since given her 1,573 bottle feeds, changed nearly 1,387 nappies, given 112 piggy back rides and logged 135 sleepless nights looking after her.
Afia's natural mother was not capable of caring for her properly, so a decision was made for keepers to step in
Romina, pictured, had to be specially trained to care for Afia as she will have to return the youngster to keepers for feeding
Keepers will have to feed Afia with milk until she is able to feed herself once she reaches the age of four
Since her birth in February, Afia, the first gorilla in Britain to be born by a caesarean section, has thrived since making history
The delicate process of introducing Afia to her fellow primates in their home on the zoo's Gorilla Island began in October when she was strong enough to do so.
Romina had been identified as the foster mother for the baby and training took place before the introduction so that Romina would return Afia to keepers for bottle feeding several times a day. Afia will still require milk feeds from her keepers until she is around four years old.
As for how her birth mother Kera is faring after the traumatic birth, zoo vet Rowena Killick said: 'Kera was quite slow to recover from general anaesthesia and it soon became clear she was still very unwell.
'She was treated intensively for severe anaemia in the weeks that followed, and finally completed all her treatment eight and a half months later. She was not well enough to care for Afia due to this illness.'
Afia was delivered by emergency caesarean at Bristol Zoo with the the help of gynaecologist Professor David Cahill
Since her birth, keepters have given Afia 1,573 bottle feeds, changed 1,387 nappies and had more than 100 sleepless nights
Keepers spent the past 10 months caring for Afia around the clock but now the main burden will fall on her family
Staff at Bristol Zoo had to be careful so Afia would be accepted back into her family after being hand-reared