A male baby gorilla, that needs a name, is being hand-reared at Bristol Zoo after he struggled to get enough milk from his mother Kala to survive.

The infant western lowland gorilla is being given round-the-clock care by keepers at the Zoo, that has been caring for gorillas since 1930.

The two-month-old baby now has a small team of experienced keepers who are caring for him and bottle feeding him day and night.

This feeding pattern will continue for the next four months after which it is hoped he will be ready to return to the rest of the group.

At night the infant is being cared for by keepers in Zoo-owned accommodation onsite, but during the day, the baby gorilla is being looked after in the Gorilla House to allow plenty of opportunities for Kala and the other gorillas to see him, smell him and be near him, and ensure that he continues to be accepted as a familiar member of the gorilla family.

Lynsey Bugg, Mammals Curator at Bristol Zoo Gardens, said: “Hand-rearing any animal is not a decision we take lightly as our preference is always for an animal to be reared naturally by its own mother.

“Sadly this doesn’t always happen and in this instance we decided that it was in the baby gorilla’s best interests for us to hand rear him to ensure he had the best chance of survival.”

Lynsey said keepers would do their best to treat him like a gorilla mum would, expecting him to hold on tight and making gorilla vocalisations to make reintroduction into the group as easy for him as possible.

She added: “It’s really important for him that he remains a familiar member of the group, as well as being used to all the sounds, sights and smells of the gorillas.”

The rest of the gorilla troop are doing well and keepers are keeping a close eye on Kala who is adjusting well and is in good health.

While the gorilla house is open as normal, the baby gorilla is not able to be seen by the public at this stage.

However, the Zoo is inviting members of the public to help choose a name for the tot and are running a poll on their Facebook page, you can vote here

The Zoo plays a significant role in the conservation breeding programme for western lowland gorillas as well as running a conservation programme in Equatorial Guinea in Africa.

Bristol Zoological Society also raises significant funds for gorilla conservation in the wild, supports a gorilla orphanage in Cameroon and has pioneered veterinary treatment for gorillas.

The Society, which is a registered charity, launched the BZS Appeal following the temporary closure of both its sites in Bristol in the face of the Covd-19 pandemic.

To find out more about the appeal, or to make a donation, visit bristolzoo.org.uk/bzsappeal.