St Valentine's Day arrival for French gorilla
Friday 15 February 2002
London Zoo has welcomed Jock, a new male gorilla from France on St Valentine's Day. Jock joins the Zoo's four females - Zaire, Diana, Minouche and Messy - as part of the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP).
Jock, an 18-year-old from Zoo la Palmyre in south-west France, arrived early on 14 February 2002. A London Zoo Keeper travelled to France to collect him and accompanied him on the journey by road and ferry to London.
Initially, Jock will undergo a quarantine period in an inside enclosure and will remain separated from the females. As soon as he is settled and health checks are completed, the slow familiarisation period with the other gorillas can begin.
Nick Lindsay, Senior Curator of the Zoological Society of London said: "They are very aware of each others' presence and they have been peeking at each other from their enclosures. As expected there has been a lot of excitement shown by both Jock and the female gorillas. They have visual contact with each other and have been displaying and asserting themselves by slapping their chests and vocalising - which is all normal gorilla behaviour."
At approximately 160kg, Jock is a well-developed male and is significantly larger than the females. To ensure that the integration of the group goes as safely and smoothly as possible, the keepers need to assess the 'gorilla politics' and each of the individual personalities.
Introductions of such strong and sensitive animals are a complex business and not without risks; it is hoped that Jock's arrival will help to re-establish the stability of the group. Zaire, the dominant female, has been temporarily segregated from the other females, after her behaviour changed and she started bullying the other girls.
Western lowland gorillas are found in west and central Africa and their distribution is from Nigeria to the Democratic Republic of Congo. The species is listed as endangered according to the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and is under increasing threat due to habitat destruction and poaching for the trade in bushmeat.
For further information please contact the Zoological Society of London's Public Relations Office:
Debbie Curtis / Peter Beatty/ Joe Laing
Tel: 020 7449 6363/ 6361/ 6236
Fax: 020 7449 6362
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