Entire Gorilla Family from Kent to be Released into the Wild

by in Featured, Wildlife, Zoo

While zoos do serve as an attraction for tourists, there are some zoos and organizations take pride themselves on being able to encourage re-population of endangered species in the wild. The private Kent zoo, in collaboration with the John Aspinall Foundation, is just one of them. In the coming months, they hope to encourage re-population of endangered gorillas in the Bateke Plateau national park in Gabon, Africa.

Djala the gorilla

The area has seen a drastic decline over the years, thanks to poachers. However, the project, headed up by the John Aspinall Foundation, plans to implant a family of 11 gorillas into the area in the coming months.

“Our view is that the key purpose of zoos should be to try and protect and enhance such endangeres species, and try to ensure their survival in the wild,” Amos Courage, leader of the project, told IB Times UK.

Courage’s stepfather, the late John Aspinall, founded the organization in 1926 through gambling winnings. Back in the 1960’s, Aspinall’s foundation gained a lot of publicity because of his unorthodox views that humans and animals should have close contact so that the trust between them could be established. Staff was encouraged to interact with dangerous animals like wolves and tigers, as were young children. Aspinall’s son, Damian, now the head of the organization, released self-footage of his own two-year-old daughter playing with gorillas. The footage gained a large number of both supporters and critics.

Unorthodox views or not, the organization has gained a strong reputation for breeding rare and endangered animals and then releasing them back into the wild. In fact, the organization is said to have an 85 percent survival rate for the 60 gorillas that it has bred and then implanted in Africa. However, it is thought that this will be the largest family ever to be introduced into the wild at once. The family of 11 consists of Djala, a 440 pound silverback male, his harem of five females, and five offspring. The organization is in hopes that the family’s strong bond will increase their odds of long-term survival and reduce the chances of isolation.

Djala and his family at Port Lympne

While this will be the first time that most of the gorillas have ever seen their natural habitat, for Djala, it will be a return home. Approximately thirty years ago, Djala witnessed the murder of his parents – an act committed by poachers. Then, just as villagers were about to boil him alive for his meat, which is considered a delicacy in the area, a French uranium prospector swept in and saved him. He was then given to the Aspinall foundation. This should also help to increase the family’s odds of survival.

Djemba is the youngest member in Djala’s family born to mother Mumba

Kent zoo’s staff has already begun to introduce the family to more indigenous plants, such as field maple. The goal is to help the gorillas become better acclimated to the foods naturally found in their soon to be new habitat.


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About the Author

Cathy Givans is a wife, a mother of five littles and a freelance writer. She nursed all five of her children and is an advocate for breastfeeding rights and benefits. She has made her own cloth diapers and enjoys reading to her children when she has free time. Cathy and her family are learning how to live green and changed to a vegetarian lifestyle about a year ago. They are currently working on moving into a complete vegan lifestyle.

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