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AZA Survival Plan recommends all gorillas be moved from NC Zoo

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ASHEBORO, N.C. -- Members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Gorilla Species Survival Plan are recommending all gorillas at the North Carolina Zoo be moved to another zoo this fall.

There are strong animal management and welfare reasons for the Species Survival Plan decision. The N.C. Zoo’s young male gorillas need exposure to an adult male role model and need to be introduced to at least another young male in the near future. That’s important so the bachelor group they will live in the remainder of their lives is formed at a young age and they learn behaviors which will transform into adulthood.

Leaders at the zoo call it a necessary recommendation to follow despite how beloved the young gorillas are.

“We all have to play together,” said Ken Reininger, general curator of animal collections at the zoo. “We all have to do what's requested of us if these populations in captivity are going to survive.”

Members of the Species Survival Plan are recommending the N.C. Zoo receive a group of three adult males to replace its current group of gorillas. Once gorillas at the N.C. Zoo leave this fall, zoo staff hopes to renovate the gorilla holding building, with a goal of having the new gorillas on exhibit by next spring.

“We feel that’s just as good as an exhibit,” said Reininger.

Plans are still being developed and discussed. As zoo staff receive updates from members of the Species Survival Plan we will let the media and public know.

Currently the N.C. Zoo’s gorilla exhibit consists of two young males Bomassa and Apollo who will be two years old in August, their mothers Jamani and Olympia, plus a third female Acacia.

Since 1981, the North Carolina Zoological Park has participated in the American Zoo and Aquarium Association’s (AZA’s) Species Survival Plan. The Species Survival Plan, or SSP, began in 1981 as a cooperative population management and conservation program for selected endangered species at North American zoos and aquariums. Each SSP carefully manages the breeding of a species in order to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable.

The mission of the program is to help ensure the survival of selected wildlife species. Currently, 344 SSPs are administered by the AZA, whose membership includes 185 accredited zoos and aquariums throughout North America. Less than a decade ago, zoos and aquariums perceived themselves as “Noah’s Arks,” saving endangered species from extinction through captive breeding. The basic impression was that this captive breeding of populations of endangered species could be used to eventually reestablish and reintroduce these animal populations after they had become extinct (or their populations drastically reduced) in the wild.


  • Snap8

    Zoos are garbage. Wild animals need to be in the wild and not in a zoo for display. That is wrong. God did not intend for wild animals to be imprisoned like they are. There is plenty of information in books and films for people to see them. The animals that I saw in the National Zoo looked depressed. They did not seem aggressive like they would be in their own environment. I am sure they were sedated to have them under control. These animals are in prison and have done nothing wrong. I will never go to another zoo or anything resembling it. Zoos are garbage and the people who support them and work at them are garbage. I am sure that all the animals are being abused or mistreated. I have boycotted these slave quarters for many and I wished other people would. Some people will say it is all about the education, but it is all about the money. That is why they are letting that horse run with the nose strips, television ratings. And that is another story. ZOOS ARE GARBAGE!!!

    • Tom

      What about the zoos that save endangered species, and in turn breed those species? Some which would be extinct without zoos because of poachers, habitat loss, starvation and predators. Also zoos rehabilitate wildlife. Humans are the #1 cause of animal extinction, so why is it a problem when some try to slow or help that cause?

    • Chuck

      Your statements are ridiculous. Animals sedated, therefore depressed and non-aggressive? I wish I could diagnose depression in animals like you. Likewise, if your boss or the company you work for is associated with a crime, does that make you a criminal as well? According to your logic it does. And race horses are all about the money, but they aren’t kept in zoos, just so ya know.

  • MirandaM

    That’s going to be sad if the Gorilla’s really do leave the zoo! My family and I just went to the zoo last week and the Gorillas were the best part. They we’re very active and funny! If they do get rid of the Gorillas I hope they get more in!

  • its my business

    Find a male in the forest. Introduce these young boys that you say need this relationship into a better life. These animals do not belong in the zoo. Take the Mothers too. I don’t do zoos. Releasing endagered species back into their habitat is a different story. Gawking at animals at zoos that could run free are a completely different story.

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