DHL flies Gorilla to his new home in London

A western lowland gorilla named Kiburi has made its debut at ZSL London Zoo after global logistics expert DHL Express flew the 193kg silverback to London as part of an international breeding program for the endangered species.

The 1.62m tall ape has arrived to lead the Conservation Zoo’s current troupe, females Mjukuu and Effie and cubs Alika and Gernot, at the family home in Gorilla Kingdom – with high hopes the matchmaking effort will lead to another Increase in the gorilla population.

DHL has given 18-year-old Kiburi, who traveled from Tenerife’s Loro Parque Zoo, VIP treatment for the 1,903-mile (3,062 km) door-to-door journey – in a custom-made box, designed by a dedicated Team support included animal keepers, aircraft engineers, cargo handlers, security teams, pilots and drivers.

“Kiburi enjoyed a meal of nutritious leafy greens, nibbled on leeks and a banana, and drank a refreshing drink with cold fruit tea during his first class flight in first class,” explained gorilla keeper Glynn Hennessy.

“Having spent his early days at London Zoo settling backstage at his new dig site, Kiburi ventured into the troupe’s indoor arcade for the first time today, where he enjoyed a breakfast of juicy red peppers and the area tried new rope swings – housewarming gift from the ZSL team.”

When the silverback arrived in London late on Friday November 18th, he spent the night at Heathrow Airport before arriving at the zoo at 8am the next morning. A team of veterinarians and zookeepers from London Zoo took delivery of the special delivery and, after an examination, introduced Kiburi to his new home in the kingdom of the gorillas.

Gorilla is to lead the troupe

The exciting move took four years. Following the death of male Kumbuka at London Zoo in 2018, ZSL London Zoo began searching for the perfect male for his space and worked with the coordinator of the European Endangered Species Breeding Program (EEP) for western lowland gorillas, which has detailed records of this leads every gorilla in the program.

“We wanted to find a gorilla to lead the troop instead of Kumbuka, which is an important part of the social structure of a healthy gorilla group,” Hennessy said.

“We were thrilled when they proposed Kiburi, a playful but authoritative silverback who had just come of age. But we wanted to make sure, so we flew to him last November and spent five days getting to know him and watching him interact with other gorillas.

“We found him to be a calm, friendly individual and fit perfectly into the dynamic of our own gorilla family. He loves to sleep in in the mornings and is more active in the afternoons, so over the past few weeks we’ve installed lots of fun new climbing gear for him – if he dares to get out of bed!’

Kiburi will spend the next few weeks exploring the rest of his new home in the gorilla kingdom – which includes a lush private island with hidden caves, a giant jungle gym and a flowing stream. His slow introduction to his new squad will be in time for their first family Christmas.

First class care

“As with any blended family, it’s important to take it slow when getting to know each other, so we keep a close eye on the squad and introduce them face-to-face at a pace that they’re comfortable with.”

“We are delighted to have Kiburi join us here at London Zoo and are grateful to DHL for the first class care of our oversized package during this carefully planned delivery.”

Dan Simmonds, Zoological Operations Manager at ZSL London Zoo, who oversaw the move, added: “Western lowland gorillas are unfortunately declining in the wild of Central and West Africa and face threats from poaching, disease, deforestation and climate change.

“ZSL is working to protect the species at ZSL London Zoo by participating in this vital global breeding program while studying wildlife diseases at ZSL’s world-leading institute of zoology, working with partners in the field to ensure the protection and monitoring of to empower wildlife and empower local communities to fight wildlife crime.

“In time, we hope to hear the pitter pattern of tiny gorilla feet again in the gorilla kingdom – contributing to the dwindling population numbers of this critically endangered species.”

Roy Hughes, EVP Network Operations & Aviation Europe at DHL Express, said: “Helping Kiburi move to London has been a huge privilege. The logistical hassle behind his transport was no easy feat but our team of experts working closely with ZSL London Zoo and Loro Parque made every effort to ensure his journey was safe and comfortable. Everyone at DHL is very committed to this conservation and we look forward to seeing Kiburi in his new home in the Gorilla Kingdom.”

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