The gorillas are going to stay.
A change of plans, and an influx of funding, will keep two young primates and their mothers at the North Carolina Zoo, and bring three newcomers in the spring.
Just two months ago, the state zoo was ready to send its youngest gorillas, Bomassa and Apollo, and their mothers away to another zoo, along with an unrelated female.
The young gorillas’ father, Nkosi, died last year at the age of 21. The architects of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ gorilla survival plan, a cooperative project to manage the nation’s gorillas, had warned the zoo that Bomassa and Apollo needed a good male role model.
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The possibility of losing five gorillas brought a flood of donations to the N.C. Zoological Society, which is the zoo’s nonprofit support organization.
“It got a strong reaction from the zoo society – that’s for certain,” said Rod Hackney, a spokesman for the zoo.
Those donations will fund an expansion of the zoo’s gorilla facilities, which will allow the zoo to hold on to most of its gorillas.
Come spring, the extra space will house Mosuba, a 30-year-old male, Rosie, a 39-year-old female, and Hadari, the 4-year-old granddaughter of Rosie. All currently stay at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Neb.
Those new animals should quell the concerns that the architects of the Gorilla Species Survival Plan expressed in May. The zoo will still give up Acacia, its childless female, but the two youngsters and their mothers won’t be going anywhere.
“We were looking at losing two youngsters, that were obviously two of the most popular animals at the park, and now they’re going to be remaining – and not only that, we’re adding another youngster,” Hackney said.