CINCINNATI -- There's a new male silverback gorilla in town.
Mshindi, a 29-year-old Western Lowland Silverback Gorilla, is now at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden's outdoor Gorilla World habitat.
He came to Cincinnati by way of the Louisville Zoo; he was specifically chosen to come to Cincinnati based on "genetics, personalities and social needs," according to a news release from the zoo. Another male gorilla was chosen to lead Mshindi's family group in Louisville, the release said, so Mshindi was sent to Cincinnati.
“Mshindi has settled in nicely,” said Ron Evans, Cincinnati Zoo’s Curator of Primates, in the news release. “We worked closely with Louisville Zoo’s gorilla staff to learn Mshindi’s trained behaviors for body presentations and health exams and to get familiar with his likes and dislikes. When working with highly intelligent animals like the great apes, it’s imperative for keepers from both zoos involved in a transfer to collaborate and exchange detailed information to ensure a smooth transition.”
For now, Mshindi is alone in the outdoor exhibit, the news release said. Female gorillas Chewie and Mara will join him soon, where they'll remain until Gorilla World closes on Oct. 3 to finish final renovations.
You may recall that Harambe, also a male Western Lowland Gorilla, was killed two summers ago when a 3-year-old fell into the Gorilla World moat. Harambe approached the boy, grabbed his leg and dragged him through the water. Zoo officials said the safest option was to shoot the gorilla to save the boy.
Harambe was killed one day after his 17th birthday, meaning he'd not yet reached breeding maturity, according to zoo Director Thane Maynard. The Cincinnati Zoo is a key player in gorilla breeding and conservation, and Maynard said reproductive biologists had collected viable sperm from Harambe to help his endangered species in its genetic diversity.
"It's not the end of his gene pool," he said. "In addition, he and his lineage are part of an ongoing breeding program." At the time, Maynard said plans were underway to double the size of Gorilla World.
Mshindi is the first addition to the Cincinnati Zoo's gorilla family since Harambe's death. The only other male gorilla in Gorilla World is Jomo, who already fathered two female gorillas. Jomo is 26.
According to the zoo, there are less than 175,000 Western lowland gorillas worldwide, with about 765 residing in zoos.
The Cincinnati Zoo "has made significant contributions to gorilla populations in zoos across the country," the news release said. In the past 47 years, 50 gorillas were born at the Cincinnati Zoo.