IT LOOKS like something from central Africa rather than central Phoenix Park and the gorillas of Dublin zoo looked very much at home today in their lush new rainforest habitat.
President Mary McAleese, in the closing weeks of her 14-year role, opened the 12,000 sq m designated rainforest in the African Plans section of the zoo – specially designed to mimic the original home of the seven western lowland gorillas who now reside there.
The move came as the zoo announced the birth of a new baby girl gorilla to first time mum Mayani. Earlier this year Lena gave birth to baby boy Kituba and it is hoped that the patter of primate feet will be heard more often as the new environment is also designed to encourage breeding.
"The largest of the primates, western lowland gorillas favour quiet, tranquil environments. The design of this new habitat was strongly influenced by behavioural studies of gorillas in the wild," Dublin Zoo said today.
"High, rocky outcrops and trees allow the apes an overview of the surrounding landscape, while streams and dense vegetation allow the gorillas to forage and move to private resting spaces."
Zoos worldwide have a population of 550 western lowland gorillas.