A charming gorilla has arrived at London Zoo

The western lowland gorilla, called Kiburi, travelled from Tenerife to London via a special DHL Express flight

Written by
Ellie Muir
Contributing writer

A Western lowland gorilla called Kiburi made his debut at ZSL London Zoo this week after global logistics experts DHL Express flew the whopping 193kg silverback to London from Tenerife. 

The 5ft 4, 18-year-old arrived as part of an international breeding programme for critically endangered species, joining females Mjukuu and Effie, and youngsters Alika and Gernot in the family’s Gorilla Kingdom home at London Zoo. There are high hopes that a match-making effort will increase the gorilla population to bring the species out of endangered status. Unsustainable logging practices, commercial hunting and fishing, and oil and gas development threaten the western lowland gorilla across its habitats.

Kiburi, who travelled from Zoo Loro Parque in Tenerife, was apparently flown business class by DHL for the 1,903-mile door-to-door journey travelling in a custom-built crate supported by a team of zookeepers, cargo handlers, security teams, aircraft engineers, pilots and drivers.  

Kiburi arrives at Heathrow
Photograph: ZSL London

Gorilla keeper Glynn Hennessy said: ‘Kiburi enjoyed an in-flight meal of nutritious leafy greens, snacked on leeks and a banana and had a refreshing drink of cold fruit tea during his first-class trip.’

Hennessy added: ‘We flew out to meet him last November and spent five days getting to know him and watching how he interacted with other gorillas. We found him to be a calm, friendly individual and a great fit for our own gorilla family’s dynamic.’

‘Kirubi loves a lie-in in the mornings and is more active in the afternoon, which is why we spent the past few weeks installing lots of fun new climbing apparatus for him to enjoy.’ 

After a special medical checkup post-flight, Kiburi has been settling into his new digs BTS at London Zoo this week, and has apparently ventured into his indoor play gym for the first time where he tested out the area’s new rope swings. Stay swingin', Kirubi.

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