Jock uses gorilla tactics to woo his females
Tuesday 26 February 2002
London Zoo has welcomed Jock, a new male western lowland gorilla from France. Jock joins the Zoo's four females - Zaire, Diana, Minouche and Messy - as part of the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP). His arrival coincides with the UK launch of a major initiative against the illegal trade in bushmeat - a trade that is increasingly threatening the survival of gorillas and other primate species
Jock, an 18-year-old from Zoo la Palmyre in southwest 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.
After undergoing health checks he has been introduced to the Zoo's four females. The introduction process of such strong and sensitive animals is a complex business and not without risks. However, all indications are that the integration has gone smoothly and it appears Jock's arrival has helped to re-establish the stability of the group.
The first signs are encouraging as Nick Lindsay, Senior Curator of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) explained, "As expected there was a lot of excitement shown by both Jock and the female gorillas when they first met. Jock has been posturing and displaying in order to impress the females - which is all normal gorilla behaviour. Since then they have all settled well."
At approximately 160kg, Jock is a well-developed male and is significantly larger than the females. To ensure that the integration of the group continues to go well, the keepers needed to assess the 'gorilla politics' and each of the individual personalities.
Nick Lindsay commented, "Jock is a relatively calm male and hasn't thrown his weight around as much as we had expected. Initially he was introduced to Messy, Minouche and Diana and as this went so well, we introduced him to Zaire." Nick Lindsay continues, "we had to be a little cautious when reintroducing Zaire to the group. Zaire had become the dominant gorilla in the absence of a male. She had to be temporarily segregated from the others when she began to bully another female. However with the presence of our new male she has integrated back in to the group successfully."
The arrival of Jock, to London Zoo, is symbolic of the efforts being made to conserve this endangered species. Gorillas and other great apes are not only threatened by habitat loss but also by the growing trade in bushmeat. This trade is becoming a major international issue with bushmeat even being traded in London. Today, Barry Gardiner MP and Robert Evans MEP are launching the UK Bushmeat Campaign at Westminster. The Campaign is a coalition of 3o leading conservation groups, including the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) which owns London Zoo and Whipsnade Wild Animal Park. The coalition is calling for the end to the unsustainable trade in bushmeat.
There has been a major increase in the trade of Bushmeat. Logging companies are deforesting the dense tropical forests both legally and illegally, opening up previously untouched land that are rich in wildlife which is then being harvested unsustainably. In addition, the continued urban growth of some of Africa's major cities is increasing the market demands for bushmeat.
Glyn Davies, Director of Conservation Programmes at ZSL, said, "Current estimates of the volume of bushmeat traded in the Congo Basin are between 1-3.4 million tonnes per annum. This trade is important to both local and national economies, and bushmeat is even traded internationally, and can be found for sale in London. Species such as the western lowland gorilla are increasingly being threatened by this growing trade which is both a conservation and development issue."
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
Notes to Editors
London Zoo's female gorillas:
Diana - 29 years old came from Bristol Zoo
Messy - 29 years old came from Dvur Kralove, Czech Republic
Minouche - 29 years old came from Dvur Kralove, Czech Republic
Zaire - 26 years old came from Jersey Zoo
- Western lowland gorillas are found in central Africa
- The species is listed as endangered according to the World Conservation Union (IUCN) red list
- The campaign aims to pressure the UK and EU to do all it can to tackle the unsustainable trade
- To stop illegal bushmeat trade into the UK
- It is hoped that by raising consumer awareness of the risks to sustainability, the environment and peoples health posed by the unregulated trade in bushmeat
- To pressure international logging and the mining companions to adopt the campaign code of conduct
— ENDS —