Mother’s Day: Maine mom forms unique bond with gorilla at Boston zoo

JEFFERSON, Maine — Who could predict that a gorilla would go ape over a Maine woman and her 5-month-old son?

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Emmily Austin visited the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston last weekend with her son, Canyon, and was exploring the gorilla exhibit when she noticed Kiki, a gorilla who also had given birth recently.

“She kept looking around the corner of the cave,” Austin told WCSH. “I was like, ‘She’s looking at Canyon.’

“I was holding him up to the glass, and was like ‘Yeah look, it’s my baby,” Austin told the television station. “And (I) was like, ‘How cool would it be if she came to see him?’

“I had said that several times but I wasn’t really expecting it.”

But that is what happened. Kiki a Western Lowland gorilla born in central Africa and a mother of five, ambled over to the glass where the Austin family was standing. The gorilla’s youngest is a son, named Pablo, who was born in October 2020, according to the zoo’s website.

“It was so sweet,” Austin told WCSH. “For like well over five minutes she just sat there watching him and just staring at him so lovingly.”

At one point, Kiki brought Pablo over to the glass to show the family.

“Her face was just so in love,” Austin told the television station. “She was showing her baby (to) my baby.

“I was just in awe. (She was) trying to pet his face through the glass, and trying to hold his hand ... just the most beautiful thing. You could see the emotion in her eyes.”

It was a sweet moment, but Canyon was not impressed. He slept through most of the encounter, WCSH reported.

Austin said she planned to return to the zoo and hopefully reunite with Kiki.

“When I walked into the zoo that day, I never could’ve imagined that we’d have this experience,” Austin told WCSH. “It was so beautiful and we walked out over the moon. And we had so many people stop us and tell us that was the most beautiful thing we’ve ever watched. And it was so touching, it really was. You could feel the emotions were just in the air.”