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Hanging out - Kafi gets warm welcome from new Zoo family

For gorillas at Dublin Zoo it's all about family, so getting orphan Kafi accepted into the troop was a complex task for the zookeeper team.

Team leader Ciaran McMahon explained that, for several weeks from the time Kafi arrived last October, they had to keep her behind mesh and they still separate her from the troop at night to give her a stress-free sleep.

Kafi is the star of an RTE programme tonight and Ciaran told the Herald that the three-year-old gorilla, who will not fully mature for another six or seven years, is "very intelligent".

"She picked up very quickly how to read the body language of Harry who is the silverback and head of the gorilla group. Since arriving she has learned amazing social skills and knows how to interact with the others, especially Harry."

Dublin Zoo has been particularly successful with orphan gorillas and five years ago got the troop to accept Mayani, a five-year-old orphan at the time, who has gone on to have her own baby within the group.

When Kafi was orphaned at five months through the death of her mother, she was rejected by gorilla families at two different zoos in Germany and France.

Rejection put her life in danger, but since she moved to Dublin Zoo she has been accepted by the group.

Ciaran says she will "move even further up the pecking order" if on maturity she mates with Harry and gives birth to his offspring.

Follow Kafi's story on The Zoo tonight on RTE One at 7pm.

csheehy@herald.ie


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