The internet is going wild over a video of a gorilla and a human bonding over their babies at Boston’s Franklin Park Zoo.
In the heart-melting clip, Kiki the gorilla is seen gazing at and attempting to pet Emmelina Austin’s sleeping newborn son, Canyon, through the glass of her exhibit.
“It was so sweet,” Austin told NBC affiliate News Center Maine. “For well over five minutes, she just sat there watching him and staring at him so lovingly.”
It all made sense to Austin when Kiki, a mother of five, brought her own son, 7-month-old Pablo, to see Canyon.
“Her face was just so in love,” Austin recalled. “She was showing her baby my baby. … You could see the emotion in her eyes.”
It’s not the first time that Kiki, 39, has taken a special interest in someone else’s offspring.
“We always joke that if a baby fell into our exhibit, Kiki wouldn’t give it back,” said John Linehan, president and CEO of Zoo New England, which manages and operates Franklin Park Zoo. “She’s so maternal.”
According to Linehan, humans share about 97% to 98% of their DNA with gorillas.
“You’d think it was even closer after watching Kiki with her babies,” Linehan told TODAY Parents. “Kiki didn’t put Pablo down for the first two months. She literally held him 24/7. She’s just starting to allow her daughters take him every once in a while for short periods of time.”
Pablo’s dad, Kitombe, is letting Kiki run the show for now.
“He’s dying to touch the baby — but he hasn’t yet. He’s being very careful,” Linehan revealed.
When Kiki was pregnant with Pablo, she was diagnosed with placenta previa, a condition in which the placenta covers the cervix. As a result, she gave birth to Pablo via C-section.
“We had to separate them for a couple of days as Kiki recovered,” Linehan said. “That’s always a bit nerve-racking. But Kiki took up right where she left off and immediately began nursing again. It was pretty incredible.”
Rachel Paula Abrahamson is a TODAY.com contributor who writes for the parenting, health and shop verticals. She was previously a senior editor at Us Weekly. Her bylines have appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, and elsewhere. Rachel lives in the Boston area with her husband and their two young daughters.