Kukeña the gorilla is heading for a new home

We are preparing to say a fond farewell to one of our Western lowland gorillas, Kukeña.

She is the eight-year-old daughter of our silverback, Jock, and is heading for sunnier climes at Madrid Zoo next week.

Her move is part of the European breeding programme for this species, in which Bristol Zoo Gardens is a partner and is vital to the survival of Western lowland gorillas.

Hopefully once she has settled in Spain she will become a mum herself.

Kuki, as she is known, will join an established troop of five other Western lowland gorillas in Madrid – a silverback called Malabo, and four females – two of which are youngsters.

Keepers at Bristol Zoo say Kuki who is energetic and clever has reached the age where she would naturally look to leave a group to start breeding.

Lynsey Bugg, Curator of Mammals at Bristol Zoo, said: “Kuki will truly be missed but it is her time to start the next chapter of her life and join another group where she can raise her young.

“She’s well-versed in caring for infants – she’s looked after, carried and cared for her siblings at Bristol Zoo Gardens and is a complete natural.

“She’ll no doubt be missed by her dad, Jock, who she has had wrapped around her little finger since she was little. Kuki is never far from the protective blanket of her dad and gets away with lots of mischief.”

Kuki will travel to Madrid Zoo with gorilla keeper, Zoe Grose, who will ensure she is comfortable and settles well into her new home. 

Bristol Zoological Society, which owns and runs Bristol Zoo, works with the University of the West of England in Equatorial Guinea to help protect Western lowland gorillas. 

Together they are involved in setting up a research base where experts can focus their efforts on protecting these amazing creatures.

They are also placing camera traps around the National Park to determine how the gorillas are using the forest and to estimate the size of their population.

Scientists believe that gorilla numbers have declined by more than 60 per cent over the last 20 to 25 years.

The exact number of these Critically Endangered primates is not known because they inhabit some of the densest and remote rainforests in Africa; however, recent estimates have shown that as few as 360,000 remain across their range. 

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