Securing a shared future for wildlife and people

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The three gorillas enjoying the lush vegetation at Orana Wildlife Park

Taronga’s primate keepers recently said goodbye to a trio of Western Lowland Gorillas, who have made the big journey across the water to New Zealand.

The three adolescent males make up a bachelor group and have moved to a new home at Orana Wildlife Park in Christchurch.

Fataki, 12, and Fuzu, 8, were born to Taronga’s former silverback Kibabu and female Frala. The pair was recently reunited with their half brother Mahali, aged 7.

The three gorillas were born and grew up together at Taronga, but Mahali moved to Mogo Zoo on the South Coast with his mother Mouila and Kibabu in 2013. Mahali’s recent return to Sydney was in preparation for the move to New Zealand.

The trio underwent a 30 day quarantine period before the relocation and a lot of strategic planning went into facilitating the move. During this period, three keepers and a veterinarian from Orana Wildlife Park travelled to Taronga to meet the gorillas.

Orana’s senior keeper spent two weeks prior to the transfer getting to know the three gorillas.

One of Taronga’s senior primate keepers, Vera Nedved, also made the journey across the Tasman with the gorillas, staying at Orana Park for a week to ensure a smooth transition. Having worked with the young gorillas for the majority of their life, Vera’s repour with these animals helped them settle into their new home.

This is the first time Orana Wildlife Park has had great apes in its collection and staff had eagerly awaited their arrival.

A lot of time and resources went into developing a brand new, purpose-built exhibit for the bachelor group and the results are very impressive. The gorillas are already settling in well, getting used to their indoor areas and venturing outside to explore their brand new exhibit.

These three gorillas are great ambassadors for their species and will play an important role in helping to educate visitors about conservation and the plight of gorillas in the wild.

- Primate Keeper, Suzie Lemon 

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