GROWING UP GORILLA
How a Zoo Baby Brought Her Family Together
by Clare Hodgson Meeker
ages 4 to 8
This heartwarming true story chronicles what happened after a mother gorilla gave birth for the first time and then walked away from her newborn baby at Seattle's Woodland Park. The dedicated staff worked tirelessly to find innovative ways for mother and baby to build a relationship. The efforts were ultimately successful, as baby Yola bonded with her mother and the rest of the family group.
Nadiri is a nineteen-year-old gorilla, who gives birth to a sweet baby, Yola. Unfortunately, she doesn't embrace the motherly role and walks away from Yola, leaving zoo caretakers searching for a way to bring the two back together and, even tougher, bring Yola into the gorilla community.
Although short, this book packs a punch as it tells the true tale of a baby gorilla and the zoo staff's attempts to reconnect mother and child. Readers not only learn about gorillas, but gain a much greater insight into a zoo caretaker's job as they struggle to help Yola and her mother. By no means is this a dry read. It's hard not to feel for the caretakers as they try to come up with ways to bring the two gorillas together. Even the likely reasons behind the issue are addressed in a manner readers will easily understand.
While the text is well done and very fitting to the age group, it's the photos which really let the situations settle in. The real scenes offer a closer connection between the reader and the gorillas, and also make the situations clearer and really hit home. The wonderful ending is inspiring and offers a beacon of hope, which will leave readers and nature fans with a smile on their faces.
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