Herald

| 9°C Dublin

Heartbreak at the zoo as gorilla mum Gana continues to cradle her dead son

Close

FIVE days after her baby died, mum Gana continues to cradle her son and stroke his hair.

The picture of Gana the gorilla cradling the limp body of her dead three-month-old son Claudio has been beamed around the world. It is a picture of pain and unimaginable grief that could make any mother cry.

Little Claudio died in his mum's arms -- and she appears to be confused as to what happened.

In the last five days, Gana has been seen holding the dead body aloft like a doll -- and wondering why his head is lolling and his arms limp.

She has been seen gently stroking his hair and shaking him ever so slightly -- and seems confused as to why there is now response.

Crowds are now gathering outside Gana's compound at the zoo in Munster, Germany, as the heartbreak continues to unfold.

Visitors to the compound have been moved by Gana's attempts to will her son back to life.

And when she realises this isn't going to happen, she continues walking around with her dead child in her arms. Visitors to the zoo who have seen Gana's plight have been crying.

Zoo staff can't go in and remove Claudio's body unless his mother places it on the ground and leaves it behind her.

It is believed that Claudio died of a heart defect -- but zoo staff aren't sure as Gana won't let anybody near him.

"In the wild, a gorilla mother can keep hold of a dead baby for weeks," said Zoo Director Joerg Adler.

Last year Gana rejected her 6-week-old daughter, Mary Zwo, who is now the star attraction at the Stuttgart zoo.

Bond

But Gana and Claudio had an unbreakable bond.

While lions eat their dead, the gorilla species have been known to grieve when they lose a loved one.

"This, perhaps, is one of the greatest gifts that a zoo can bestow -- to show animals are very much like ourselves, and feel elation and pain," Adler said. "Gana lost a child, but I think in that loss, she taught people here so much."


Privacy