Columbia's Riverbanks Zoo to welcome 3 new gorillas - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Columbia's Riverbanks Zoo to welcome 3 new gorillas

(Philadelphia-AP) March 28, 2004 - Columbia's Riverbanks Zoo will soon have three new residents.

A 380-pound silverback western lowland gorilla named Chaka and two other male gorillas are expected at the zoo in May. The gorillas are leaving the Philadelphia Zoo.

Chaka, 19, has lived at the Philadelphia zoo for the past five years. He will turn 20 on July 22nd.

He was first brought to Philadelphia by zookeepers hoping he would mate with a female gorilla named Demba, whose parents were born in the wild. Zookeepers hoped Demba would introduce her genes into the captive population's gene pool.

After no child was produced, it was decided to send Chaka to Columbia. It's hoped he'll mate successfully with a pair of young females. Demba, 33, will stay in Philly.

According to the World Wildlife Foundation, the western lowland gorilla is one of four gorilla subspecies. There are about 94,000 of the great apes on the planet. The western lowland gorilla's native habitat is Africa in Cameroon, Republic of Congo, CAR, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Angola.

The Wild Conservation Society's web site says the western lowland gorilla can life 45 to 50 years. Males like Chaka can reach a weight of up to 400 pounds on a diet of fruit, leaves, stems and some meat, insects and eggs.

updated 12:25pm by Chris Rees

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