Taronga Zoo’s remarkable Silverback Gorilla, ‘Kibabu’ is retiring to the NSW South Coast after siring an impressive 14 living offspring for the global breeding program.
Kibabu will relocate to Mogo Zoo along with adult females Kriba, Mouila and their youngsters, Mahale and three old Kipenzi.
The move has been planned for many years and emulates the natural lifecycle of gorilla groups in the wild.
Primate Keeper, Richard Buzas, said: “As much as all the keepers admire Kibabu as a near-perfect leader, we know it’s important for him to relinquish the demanding Silverback role and for new genetics to be introduced into the breeding program.”
At 36 years of age Kibabu is considered an ‘old man’ for a gorilla. In the wild, females would disband and move on from an ageing Silverback and young males would violently challenge him for the position.
“The move to Mogo Zoo will allow a carefully selected successor, ‘Kibali’, from a French Zoo, to take over the group without the upheaval and risk that would occur in the wild,” said Richard.
Kibabu’s contribution to the global population of Western Lowland Gorillas is impressive. He has sired 14 direct living offspring across gorilla communities around the world from Melbourne Zoo to Japan and Europe.
“Although members of the public love coming and seeing the awesome 210 kilogram Kibabu, he has played a much more important role – helping safeguard his wild cousins from extinction.”
Kibabu’s global family members will continue to play a vital role in the European Species Management Breeding Program which helps ensure the survival of the Critically Endangered Western Lowland Gorilla.
Kibabu was born at Howlett’s Zoo in England before being moved to Apenhuel in Holland to become leader of the group which arrived in Sydney in 1996.
Kibabu will move to Mogo over the next few months with the assistance of his dedicated Taronga Keepers.