The first gorilla to be born at London Zoo for 22 years has died after being attacked by a male silverback who arrived from Dublin Zoo last year.
Tiny, a seven-month-old lowland gorilla, suffered a broken arm and internal injuries during the fight, which broke out as zookeepers were attempting to introduce Kesho, an 11-year-old silverback male, to the baby and his mother, Mjukuu.
The baby was taken to the zoo's hospital where he underwent a three-hour operation. However, he was unable to breathe by himself and keepers suspected he had internal injuries.
The baby's body was given back to Mjukuu so that she could come to terms with his death, the zoo said yesterday in a statement. A post-mortem will be carried out later.
London Zoo said it was always going to be difficult to introduce a new silverback male into the resident band of three females, given that one of them was pregnant by the previous dominant male who died suddenly last year.
The zoo said it was important to introduce the silverback male into the harem as quickly as possible after the death of the previous dominant male to stabilise the social cohesion. However, in the wild, new males who take over an existing harem are known to kill infants fathered by the previous leader.
Kesho was introduced gradually to the other two females but keepers waited many more months until they introduced him to Mjukuu and her baby, said zoological director David Field.
"Mjukuu had begun to interact very confidently with Kesho," Dr Field said.
"The first introduction between mother, baby and Kesho on Wednesday went very well."
However, when Kesho was introduced a second time on Thursday morning, he began to assert his dominance and a scuffle broke out between the whole group, injuring the infant. (© Independent News Service)