Monday, December 17, 2012

Introducing Olympia Gorilla

Olympia Gorilla has not always lived at the NC Zoo.  She came from Zoo Atlanta, where she was born in 1996.  It was important to move her to NC in order to complete a part of the Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP) so that she could mate with Nkosi and give birth to that adorable little bundle we now know as Apollo. But how was this transfer and introduction accomplished? Believe it or not, gorillas sometimes come by UPS. Yes, there is an animal shipping service. Who knew?

No matter how a new animal arrives at the zoo, the first step is quarantine.  When she arrived in August of 2011, Olympia was kept separate  just in case she might have been carrying any communicable disease.  After an appropriate length of time, she was given visual access to the other gorillas, and only later, was Olympia allowed to mingle with the other females, Acacia and Jamani. Eventually as per zoo protocol, the male is added into the mix, in this case Nkosi, Asheboro's silverback.  All steps went well, everyone appeared to be getting along, and now we can see all the gorillas roaming the exhibit area together.  Here is a video showing Olympia exploring the Forest Glade for the very first time. Interestingly, the zookeeper in video points out that Olympia seemed to be Nkosi's favorite at the time. Even now, Nkosi will often go to Olympia and put his big arms around her and give her a sweet hug chock full of gorilla affection.