Emmily Austin of Jefferson, Maine visited the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston earlier this month with her five-week-old son Canyon.
When she visited the gorilla exhibit, Austin held her sleeping son up near the safety glass. The boy seemed to catch the eye of Kiki, a gorilla who is also raising a young child: She had her fifth baby and first son Pablo in October.
Austin said she didn’t know that one of the gorillas also had a baby boy.
“She kept looking around the corner of the cave, and I was like, ‘She’s looking at Canyon,’” said Austin, adding that the intrigued simian spent five minutes gesturing and gazing “lovingly” at the tyke from her enclosure.
Austin couldn’t figure out why until Kiki scooped up her own son, a 7-month-old named Pablo, and held him up to the glass, the NBC affiliate reported. Along with Pablo, Kiki also has four daughters.
The two then proceeded to show each other their baby boys through the partition like mothers at a postpartum party. At one point, Kiki even tried to pet Canyon’s face through the glass and “hold his hand,” according to an awestruck Austin.
“Her face was just so in love,” gushed the adoring mother. “She was showing her baby, my baby.”
And while Canyon reportedly slept through the encounter, his mom hopes to return to the zoo so the gal pals can revel in their mutual motherhood again.
“When I walked into the zoo that day, I never could’ve imagined that we’d have this experience,” she said. “It was so beautiful, and we walked out just over the moon.”
Husband Michael Austin uploaded footage of the interaction to YouTube Saturday. The video shows Kiki looking at and gesturing toward the baby and pressing her hand against the glass. Pablo clambers over and Kiki scoops him up, leaving the two mothers holding their boys with the glass between them.
This isn’t the first time a gorilla’s maternal instincts have seemingly been activated by the sight of a human toddler. In 1996, a mama primate was hailed as a hero after miraculously rescuing a 3-year-old boy who had fallen into her enclosure at Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo.