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Lisa Ridley
Frala and Kibali

The next step in Taronga’s Western Lowland Gorilla conservation breeding program began with the return of senior female to the Gorilla Forest exhibit. 

Today Frala can be seen with the group’s young silverback, Kibali, who came to Taronga after a global search by Zoo curators and keepers for an outstanding male to lead the group after Taronga’s famous silverback, Kibabu, retired to Mogo Zoo.

In coming days she will continue to get to know Kibali, 12, and females 10-year-old Mbeli and Johari aged 13.

Frala, 33, is very experienced and successful mother having had given birth to six gorillas, including two sons Fuzu and Fataki, to Taronga’s previous silverback, Kibabu.

Gorilla keeper, Lisa Ridley, said: “Frala’s had her time away from a mature silverback but now she’s ready to start breeding again. It is natural for females to move in and out of breeding groups in the wild.”

With three breeding females and Kibali, the next chapter in Taronga’s gorilla dynasty has begun.

“The introductions went really, really well. Better than what we expected. We thought Frala might give Kibali a run for his money but he just strut his stuff like a typical young male.

“He’s been charging at Frala and the others just to show his dominance but Frala is taking it in her stride. That’s her maturity coming through – she knows what to do,” said Lisa.

Frala was living away from the public areas with her two sons to allow Kibali, Mbeli and Johari to get to know each other and give Kibali time to learn how to be a silverback.

With just 100,000 Western Lowland Gorillas remaining in the wild, any additions to the family are valuable to world breeding programs for gorillas, helping insure against rapidly declining numbers in Africa.

They are under serious threat due to the ever-growing bushmeat trade, poaching and forest clearing. 

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