ZSL London Zoo’s infant gorilla
Saturday 14 May 2011
The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is sad to announce the death of ZSL London Zoo’s infant gorilla.
The seven-month-old western lowland gorilla was injured on Thursday when his mother Mjukuu was introduced to the silverback male Kesho for the second time since his arrival.
Gorillas have complex social structures which makes introducing new animals to a group extremely challenging. In the wild, male gorillas commonly attack the offspring of rivals, so introducing an unrelated baby gorilla to a dominant male is particularly complicated, but it was essential in order to maintain a cohesive social group.
Kesho’s arrival in August 2010 was recommended by the Gorilla EEP (European Endangered Species Programme) species committee after the death of the zoo’s male gorilla.
He was gradually introduced to females Effie and Zaire, but we had waited for many months until we were confident we had the best chance of a successful introduction to Mjukuu and the baby.
Every sign prior to the introduction had indicated that the gorillas were ready, but these animals have complex social structures, and the outcomes can never be predicted with any certainty.
During the second introduction a scuffle between the whole group occurred and the baby’s arm was seriously injured.
The gorillas were immediately separated and the baby taken to the on-site vet hospital where vets confirmed a fracture and began operating. When vets brought him off the anaesthetic he was unable to breath by himself. Despite repeated attempts to resuscitate him, the infant could not be revived and we suspect he had sustained internal injuries during the introduction.
The death of the baby is a great loss to ZSL, especially our keepers and vets, who have worked tirelessly with our gorillas
Gorilla introductions will continue with the adults in order to create a stable, secure group.