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Western lowland gorilla Kimani will soon move to new home

Kimani the GorillaWestern lowland gorilla Kimani will soon move to her new home where it is hoped that she will be successful in starting her own family.

Zoo New England is a longtime and active participant in the Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP), which is a cooperative, inter-zoo program coordinated nationally through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). SSPs help to ensure the survival of selected species in zoos and aquariums, most of which are threatened or endangered and enhance conservation of these species in the wild. Per the SSP recommendation, Kimani will move to the San Francisco Zoo & Gardens in San Francisco, Calif.

“Careful thought and planning goes into these recommendations and this is not something that we enter into lightly,” said John Linehan, Zoo New England President and CEO. “This is bittersweet for us as we will miss Kimani, but it is important for her to start her own family which contributes to the preservation of this species.”

In the months leading up to Kimani’s departure, the Animal Care staff at Franklin Park Zoo has worked closely with the staff at the San Francisco Zoo & Gardens to prepare Kimani, age 14, for this move and successful assimilation into the gorilla troop.

“Group dynamics and stability are extremely important when determining whether the time is right to move a gorilla to a new home. We feel that Kimani is ready for this move and will adjust well to her new home,” said Erica Farrell, Assistant Curator of Franklin Park Zoo’s Tropical Forest. “Kimani has learned maternal skills by observing her own mother and also through interacting with her younger siblings Kambiri and Azize. She is at the right age to have a family of her own.”

Kimani was born at Franklin Park Zoo on Nov. 24, 2004. Her parents, Kiki and Kitombe (Kit), as well as her siblings Kambiri and Azize and non-related gorillas Little Joe and Gigi all reside within Franklin Park Zoo’s Tropical Forest.

In 2013, Kimani’s older sister Kira moved to her new home at the Philadelphia Zoo per an SSP recommendation. Since moving to Philadelphia, Kira has started her own family further contributing to the continuation of her species.

Western lowland gorillas are considered critically endangered in the wild. They are found in the countries of Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Republic of Congo, Angola, Central African Republic and Nigeria. Threats to gorillas vary geographically and western gorillas are primarily threatened by disease, poaching for the bushmeat trade, and unsustainable logging and mining practices.

Zoo New England is committed to the conservation of gorillas, and recently partnered with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) on a project to conserve and protect Cross-River gorillas ­– a sub-species of the western lowland gorilla and the most threatened ape in Africa. Zoo New England’s support will provide field equipment and supplies, as well as help improve anti-poaching efforts within the Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary. This partnership supports full-time employment to community rangers, who play a critical role in the sanctuary's wellbeing. Support of anti-poaching planning and monitoring by these rangers has shown to significantly improve law enforcement effectiveness and has gradually reduced hunting within the sanctuary.

Through cell phone recycling, people can also help to protect gorillas. Coltan, used in the production of cell phones, is mined from central African forests right in the gorillas’ habitat. By recycling cell phones, the need for additional coltan mining is reduced, and in turn, habitat destruction. Guests to Zoo New England’s Franklin Park Zoo and Stone Zoo can drop off their old cell phones, which are recycled through the Eco-Cell program.

Celebrate Kimani!

On November 10, we will be celebrating a joint November birthday party for Kimani and Kambiri. The gorilla exhibit will be festively decorated and the gorillas will enjoy treats made especially for them. The gorillas will go on exhibit at 10:15 a.m. This is a perfect opportunity to see Kimani and wish her well before she moves to her new home.