Sadly, Vumilia, the older of the two orphaned Grauer’s gorillas in Mutsora, collapsed last night around midnight and died a few hours later.
Dr. Eddy tried to stabilize the gorilla, but the change in the animal’s condition was dramatic and grave; he managed to revive the little gorilla once, but not for long. Earlier that day (January 12), Vumilia had been eating fairly well. The Mutsora team has found a good source of forest foods. It was his first day without SC fluid and antibiotic therapy–as he seemed much improved and had completed his course of treatment. We continued to feel cautious optimism for him. The younger female orphan, Mapendo, so far, shows no signs of illness and she has, overall, been healthier from the start. We will continue to keep a very close eye on her; at least she still has Andre.
Our plan had been to move the gorillas tomorrow by plane (thanks again to Wildlife Direct) to a new holding facility, quickly built by DFGFI in the back yard of their Goma office. This enclosure should be finished by the end of the day today, and we believed the orphans were stable enough to travel tomorrow. ICCN will provide staff to help with their care. This location is not where Ndeze and Ndakasi, the orphaned mountain gorillas, reside. Nor is it suitable for long-term housing, and we continue to discuss how to move forward on establishing a proper Grauer’s gorilla sanctuary in DR Congo.
We will go ahead with the move for Mapendo and perform a complete necropsy (post mortem exam) on Vumilia. We hope this exam will explain the cause of death, but this is never a guarantee, and we will need to secure permits in order to send the tissues off to experts in the USA for detailed analysis—a step that takes time.
To all who have helped so far by supplying resources and donations, thank you. MGVP has a restricted fund designated for orphaned gorilla care, so all funds given for the orphans will be used for them, either for vet care or—in the future—toward the establishment of a new facility. The insecurity in DR Congo is not helping matters. We hope the leaders of ICCN and NGO partners to agree on the way forward, and soon.