Motuba the gorilla, or Tubby as he is affectionately known, went back on exhibit Thursday at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium.
Zoo officials aren't sure how the 27-year-old primate was injured May 3, but it possibly was in a scuffle with Tatu, another male gorilla.
Tubby's injury required an MRI and surgery at the Nebraska Medical Center to remove a fractured portion of the gorilla's upper jaw.
He has been eating a soft diet of cooked vegetables while recovering off exhibit, although he had vocal and visual access to the other gorillas in the zoo's Hubbard Gorilla Valley.
Zoo officials will work to return Motuba to his group in the exhibit, said Dan Houser, the zoo's curator of large mammals.
“There are social opportunities — social cohesion, dominance, threats and friendship — which are important for him to personally exhibit and experience,” he said. “We don't want to deny him the opportunity to express his full range of gorilla behaviors, and he needs the social stimulation of other gorillas to elicit these behaviors.”
Zookeepers will study the group dynamics to make sure all of the gorillas on exhibit are safe.
Houser said Tubby will fully return to his normal diet next week.
“In truth, we're probably babying him longer than is really needed, but you can't stop zookeepers from being overly concerned about the animals they care for,” he said. “Tubby certainly doesn't mind. He'll let us wait on him hand and foot for as long as we're willing.”
Houser said all of the doctors who have treated Tubby are pleased with how quickly he has healed.
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