Posted: Mar 30, 2013 4:33 PM by CBS News
(CBS News) A team of dedicated workers in Cincinnati are trying to give a very sad story a happy ending.
Gladys, a two-month old baby gorilla, was abandoned by her mother, and her keepers have been caring for her until a foster mother gorilla can take over.
Ashley Chance and Ron Evans are part of a team that has worked in eight-hour shifts 24 hours a day, caring for Gladys since she was just a month old.
But this isn't easy babysitting; they actually call it "gorillafication."
"We're gorillafying her. That's what we call it. We act like gorillas, like a grown mother would do, so she is prepared when she goes in there with them," said Chance, a zookeeper a the Cincinnati Zoo.
Gladys is being prepared to live with the eight full grown gorillas at the zoo, so everyone around her dresses in black scrubs and fury gorilla outfits to resemble one.
The staff carries her around on their backs, grooms her and even talks in baby gorilla talk.
"This is what we need to do before we put her with a surrogate mother," Evans said.
Gladys was born at a zoo in Texas, but just after the birth, zookeepers immediately saw signs of trouble.
Watch: Baby gorilla has human mothers
"Gladys' mother wasn't taking care of her, so the zoo had to hand-raise her," Evans said.
Since all gorilla moms at that zoo were occupied with their own babies, the zoos agreed she was better off in Cincinnati.
What the zoo staff is doing with baby Gladys has never been done here before, and after four or five months, the zoo will officially be her new home.
There are four different female gorillas that are potential mothers for the little primate, and right now they all keep an eye on the little stranger.
"They're constantly staring at her or looking at her or even if they're kind of off in the distance they're still, like, making sure they know what she is doing, making sure she is OK, so, yeah, they are very interested in her," Chance said.
But before she joins them, the zoo wants to make sure Gladys is healthy and has the best chance of being accepted by the other gorillas.
For the keepers, like Chance, they need to try not to get attached to the little one, because one day she'll have to let her go.
"It's going to be amazing because it is going to end well," said Chance. "We want her in with those gorillas as soon as possible, and this is all about Gladys. It's all about getting her in with a gorilla mother because that's what's best for her."
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