Mountain gorilla orphan Musuka eating a snack

Musuka eating a snack

As many of you know, last year our Gorilla Doctors in DR Congo saved the life of an infant mountain gorilla caught in a snare. She had been trapped for more than six days, left behind by her family and exposed to the elements, and lost all blood flow to her left foot. Due to the risk of a full-body infection spreading from her badly injured limb, Drs. Eddy and Martin had to amputate the already-dead foot as quickly as possible.

Baby mountain gorilla Yalala sitting on doctor's lap

3-year-old Musuka in 2017 (clockwise from top left): laying in a snare with food brought to her by the rescue team, sitting in Dr. Eddy’s lap after returning to the patrol post, the damage done by the snare to her left foot.

Based on her nose print, she was identified as a baby from the Kabirizi group named Yalala (which means “rubbish” in Swahili). She could not be reintroduced to her family due to her extremely grave condition. She was transferred to the Senkwekwe Center in Virunga National Park, where our Gorilla Doctors and caregivers monitored her health around the clock. In those first few weeks, though she finally began to show signs of improvement, her future remained uncertain.

Eight months later, Yalala has been given a new name—Musuka, which means “resurrection” in Swahili. When Drs. Eddy and Martin and Virunga National Park trackers  first found her, Musuka was too weak to sit up or even eat any food. In stark contrast, these days Musuka has an excellent appetite, which explains her dramatic weight gain from just 12 kg when she was at death’s door, to more than double that weight at a solid 25 kg! She is also adapting well to life without her left foot, and is able to move about comfortably in her new home.

Mountain gorilla orphan Musuka with bushbuck friend at Virunga National Park

Musuka with her new friend Pongo (photo courtesy of Virunga National Park)

Musuka has also made an unusual new friend—an injured bushbuck named Pongo who is also being cared for at Senkwekwe. Pretty soon we expect Musuka to be introduced to the other mountain gorilla orphans (Ndeze, Ndakasi, and Matabishi) in the neighboring enclosure. We are thrilled to have helped Musuka survive her ordeal, and to see her behaving like a regular gorilla, bushbuck buddy and all.  We cannot wait for the day when she can join the rest of the mountain gorilla orphans at Senkekwe!