After losing his mother, almost certainly to the bushmeat trade, infant gorilla Bobga spent over a year being cared for at our fellow sanctuary Limbe Wildlife Centre. Last year, the young gorilla was transferred to Ape Action Africa in order to continue his rehabilitation and to later meet his new gorilla family.

Gorillas are incredibly sensitive animals, and every step of Bobga's journey has progressed at a pace dictated by Bobga himself. When he first came to us his primary caregiver from Limbe Wildlife Centre, Killi Matute Stephen, remained at Ape Action Africa until everyone was satisfied that Bobga had bonded with our team and that he was settling well into his new home.

Bobga handled the transfer extremely well, and he was soon enjoying playing in our forest with his dedicated caregivers. He's a very confident young gorilla, and as he got more comfortable in his new surroundings, he started exploring further from his carers and even began to decide for himself when it was time to leave the forest and head back to the comfort of his hammock.

When our team decided that Bobga was ready to start getting to know his new gorilla family - Chris, Parry and Doumassi - he was given a health check by our veterinary team and moved to our juvenile gorilla area where, with plenty of reassurance from his caregivers, he began to settle into his new environment.

Bobga's health check prior to moving to our juvenile gorilla group. Image © Ape Action Africa / Jo Gaweda

Introducing primates to each other is always a long and careful process, and in the first stage of an integration the individuals are in visual contact only. Bobga was very interested in his future groupmates and was keen to demonstrate his confidence with invitations to play and some attention-grabbing chest beating.

Chris, Parry and Doumassi were equally keen to get to know the new arrival, so when Bobga had had enough time to get used to his new home, we began the process of gradually introducing him to each gorilla in turn and slowly increasing the amount of time that he spent with them each day. The introductions progressed well, and Bobga was very happy to have some gorilla playmates to chase and wrestle with.     

Bobga rests in his hammock after a day of play. Image © Ape Action Africa / Ian Bickerstaff

When Bobga had bonded with each of the juvenile gorillas, he then gradually began spending time with them as a group and eventually also started sleeping with them. We were approaching the final stage of the introduction, and Bobga would soon be allowed to spend all day out in the forest enclosure with his new friends. However, one morning caregivers noticed that Bobga was limping, and he was separated from the rest of the group to allow our veterinary team to examine him.

Bobga's leg was swollen and as we began treatment with painkillers and anti-inflammatories, we also arranged for him to be taken into town for x-rays. We believe that Bobga's injury was caused by one of the other gorillas pulling on his leg while he was up on the sleeping platform. This is most likely to have been Parry as he has always been the roughest during play.

X-rays revealed a fracture in Bobga's femur and, following consultation with our specialist veterinary team in the UK, it was decided that the best course of action was to restrict Bobga's movement, allow the fracture to heal, and monitor his condition with further x-rays to check that no complications developed. 

Bobga remained in view of the other gorillas, but as he could not interact with them, members of our team stayed with him, giving him plenty of enrichment to ensure he was mentally stimulated. Further x-rays have shown that Bobga's injury is healing well, and he has been moved back to a larger cage where he can exercise to build up the strength in his muscles before being reintroduced to the group. He was very excited to be able to climb and run around again and, with Parry having been moved to join Chickaboo and Luci in their integration into Shufai's group, we hope that it will not be too long before Bobga is back in the forest with Chris and Doumassi. 

Bobga explores the juvenile gorilla enclosure. Image © Ape Action Africa / Alex Benitez

Banner image © Ape Action Africa / Alex Benitez

£3 can feed Bobga for two days. If you are able to, please consider making a one-off donation or setting up a monthly gift to help us care for Bobga through these particularly difficult times. We've lost all income from visitors and volunteers, so every contribution counts. Thank you for your support. 

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