Monday, August 3, 2015

New gorilla coming to Philadelphia Zoo

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Kira is a female western lowland gorilla who is coming to the Philadelphia Zoo from Boston. (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Williams)
Kira is a female western lowland gorilla who is coming to the Philadelphia Zoo from Boston. (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Williams)
Story Highlights
  • Kira will soon come to Philadelphia from the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston.
  • She will be paired with Jabari, one of the three male gorillas at the zoo.
  • The Franklin Park Zoo describes Kira as the "peacemaker" of its group and protective of her sisters.

A new gorilla is coming to the Philadelphia Zoo, where officials hope she will start a family.

Kira, a female western lowland gorilla, will soon come to Philadelphia from the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston. Here, she will be paired with Jabari, one of the three male gorillas at the zoo. The Philadelphia Zoo also has another female gorilla.

"Kira is at the right age for her to start her own family and we feel that she is very ready to make this move," John Linehan, president and CEO of Zoo New England, said in a statement. Zoo New England manages the Frankin Park Zoo. 

The 13-year-old gorilla is expected to arrive in Philadelphia in a few weeks. Jabari, her future mate, is 28 years old and arrived in Philly from the St. Louis Zoo in 2004. He was born at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago.

Her move stems from a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' gorilla species survival plan, a national program designed to maintain a genetically diverse and demographically stable captive gorilla population.

Western lowland gorillas are endangered in the wild.

Jeannine Jackle, assistant curator of the Franklin Park Zoo's Tropical Forest, called the move an "important step for her and for the gorilla population."

She said in a statement that Kira had "learned mothering skills by watching her own mother as well as by helping to care for her younger sisters."

In Boston, Kira lived with her parents, two younger siblings and two non-related gorillas. On its website, the Franklin Park Zoo describes Kira as the "peacemaker" of its group, and protective of her sisters.

"We believe she will be an excellent mother," Jackle said.

Philadelphia Zoo officials say they expect Kira to make a successful transition into the zoo's gorilla group.

The zoo's current gorillas include Jabari; Louis, Jabari's 14-year-old son; Honi, an 18-year-old female; and Kuchimba, Honi's 10-year-old son.

Jabari and Louis arrived together in Philadelphia in July 2004. Honi and Kuchimba arrived from the Bronx Zoo in March 2007.

In the wild, western lowland gorillas are found in Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Republic of Congo, Angola, Central African Republic and Nigeria.


Contact Emily Babay at 215-854-2153 or ebabay@philly.com. Follow @emilybabay on Twitter.

Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443; BreakingNewsDesk@philly.com. Follow @phillynews on Twitter.

Philly.com staff
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