People say goodbye to Fort Worth Zoo baby gorilla who is moving to Cleveland after surrogacy struggles

Hundreds went out to the Fort Worth Zoo Sunday to say goodbye before a baby gorilla leaves Texas to start the next chapter of her story in Ohio.

Jameela’s story captivated people across North Texas and beyond. She was born at the Fort Worth Zoo after being delivered by an emergency cesarean section and will be moved to Cleveland after being rejected by her mother and surrogates.

At the Fort Worth Zoo, the line was out the door to get a peek of the special primate, as 11-week-old Jameela captivated the crowds.

Her story has stolen the hearts of many.

The zoo said the gorilla’s mother showed signs of "heightened blood pressure," and therefore, she needed an emergency C-section.

READ MORE: Fort Worth Zoo delivers gorilla baby via emergency C-section

Jameela was born a month before her due date, and the mother didn’t show enough "maternal instinct."

"When she was presented to her after the procedure, she didn’t really recognize the baby as hers and just didn’t pick her up," explained Angie Holmes, who is the primary gorilla keeper at the Fort Worth Zoo.

Holmes said the zoo staff tried to train another adult female gorilla to be the infant’s substitute mom, but it was unsuccessful.

The zoo decided it would be best for Jameela to join a troop of gorillas at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo in Ohio, a location that has proven experience with a substitute mom. 

"That support and understanding from the community to know that we did above and beyond, and pulled out all the stops, really kind of bolsters us to do this next step," Holmes added.


Fort Worth Zoo baby gorilla to be moved to Cleveland after surrogacy struggles

Jameela was delivered by an emergency cesarean section in January, and attempts to integrate the baby gorilla into the troop have failed.

Before she leaves the Lone Star State, the zoo made sure people got to say a proper goodbye. 

On Saturday and Sunday, people waited in long lines to send the young gorilla off on her next adventure. 

Some even wrote cards with well wishes, like 6-year-old Izzy Lettieri.

"We wish her all the best and we hope we get to see her in her new home someday," Shalyn Lettieri said.

Others drove hours just to get a glimpse of the infant gorilla, like the Chitwood family from Oklahoma.

"It’s been amazing, they’ve had a blast. We’ve waited a long time to come down here and see her," Casey Chitwood said.

The Chitwood family has followed Jameela’s story from the beginning, and the drive was well worth it for 10-year-old Tristan.

Everyone is sad to see her go, but they're excited to watch the next chapter of her story unfold. 

"We know she’s going to a good place that’s going to take great care of her, but also support us knowing that we did everything we could," Holmes said. "We tried everything we could, and this is just the best next step for her."

Jameela is expected to leave for Cleveland soon.

The zoo said they are going to try to make the transition as smooth as possible.

She’ll travel with staff that she’s familiar with and stay on the same schedule.