BREAKING NEWS: Baby gorilla killed at London Zoo
LONDON Zoo’s baby gorilla has been killed after it was attacked by an older male gorilla in the enclosure.
The seven-month-old, which had not officially been named but was nicknamed Tiny, died yesterday after the 12-year-old silverback male Kesho broke the baby’s arm on their second meeting.
The two gorillas were immediately separated and Tiny taken to the on-site vet hospital but he was unable to breathe when vets tried to wake him following a three-hour operation.
Male gorillas commonly attack the offspring of rivals in the wild so zookeepers had waited until this week to introduce Tiny to Kesho.
Zoological director David Field said: “We had progressed the introductions very slowly, waiting until we saw very positive signs they were ready.
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“Mjukuu [the baby’s mother] had begun to interact very confidently with Kesho, choosing to spend time close to him through a partition. Kesho also responded positively towards Mjukuu and the baby.
“We took our cues from the confidence Mjukuu showed and, although we were nervous, the first introduction between mother, baby and Kesho on Wednesday went very well.”
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However, the second introduction soon turned more boisterous as Kesho asserted his dominance and during a scuffle between the group, the baby’s arm was broken.
Vets immediately operated on Tiny but when they brought him off the anaesthetic he could not be revived and it is suspected he sustained internal injuries during the original incident.
Mr Field said: “We knew this was going to be an extremely difficult situation for the gorillas and their keepers and we’ve always been open about the challenges we would face introducing a new male in such difficult circumstances.
“Everyone here is utterly devastated. Although we had tried to be prepared for the worst, we are all completely heartbroken by this.”
Zookeepers returned the baby’s body to Mjukuu so she could come to terms with his death. A post-mortem is due to be carried out at a later date.
The London Zoo Gorilla Kingdom now contains Kesho and three adult females, Mjukuu, 12, Effie, 18, and Mjukuu, 12.