Calgary

This swinging single is ready to mingle: Calgary Zoo's new male gorilla finishes quarantine

Jasiri, a male western lowland gorilla, made his debut at the Calgary Zoo on Tuesday after being held in quarantine for three months.

Now that he's finished a three-month quarantine, Jasiri will be introduced to 5 females in troupe

Jasiri, the Calgary Zoo's new male gorilla, made his debut on Tuesday. The troupe has been without a male gorilla since 37-year-old Kakinga died in 2016. (CBC)

The Calgary Zoo's new male gorilla made his first public appearance on Tuesday.

Jasiri, a western lowland gorilla, made his debut after being held in quarantine for three months, the zoo said.

The 21-year-old silverback, or mature male gorilla, was moved to Calgary from Zoo Atlanta in June.

He'll slowly get acquainted with each member of the troupe, said Calgary Zoo curator Dr. Malu Celli.

"Based on behaviours, we'll decide how to proceed with the introduction," she said.

The male will be slowly introduced to his new surroundings and his five female troupe mates, the zoo says. (CBC)

The troupe has been without a male gorilla since 37-year-old Kakinga died in 2016.

"It is quite unusual for females to be alone together," Celli said, adding that it was hard at times but the troupe is now doing very well.

"This is the perfect time to introduce this handsome young man to the rest of the group."

Celli said she expects to see some aggression from Jasiri as he establishes himself as the boss.

"Hopefully once the group is introduced and living happily together he can sire babies on his own," she said.

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP) recommended Jasiri move to Calgary from Atlanta so he could form his own family group, Zoo Atlanta said earlier in the year.

Western lowland gorillas are a critically endangered species. 

The gorilla population has declined by more than 60 per cent over the last 20 to 25 years, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

Disease, poaching and habitat destruction are all threats to the population's survival. 

They can be found in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, the Republic of Congo and Angola. 

The species can be distinguished from other gorillas by their smaller size, shorter hair, wider skull, brown-grey coats and auburn chests. 

The World Wildlife Fund says all gorilla species — including cross river gorillas, mountain gorillas and eastern lowland gorillas — are at risk. 

"It's important that they have a sustainable and healthy population in zoos," Celli said.

Calgary Zoo curator Dr. Malu Celli says it's important for the survival of lowland gorillas that there be healthy populations in zoos. (CBC)

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