Page last updated at 11:18 GMT, Friday, 19 September 2008 12:18 UK

Orphan gorilla joins zoo family

Bristol zoo hope that Kera will eventually be able to breed

A young orphan gorilla has moved from Germany to join her new family at Bristol Zoo Garden's "Gorilla Island".

Four-year-old Kera will live with the zoo's family of western lowland gorillas including three-year-old Namoki and Komale who is nearly two.

Keepers will monitor her interaction with the rest of the group and it is hoped the family will teach her how to be a "fully socialised" gorilla.

Kera, born in 2004, was hand reared due her mother's lack of interest.

'Very greedy'

Kera has moved from Wilhelma Zoo in Stuttgart, Germany. The keeper who travelled with her described her as "good natured, sociable and very greedy".

Bristol zoo was thought to be the best place for her due to its facilities for an expanding group of gorillas.

It is hoped that Kera's new family will also help her learn about gorilla families, their social structure and etiquette.

Her new "parents" include Jock, an adult male, who weighs 220kg (485 llbs) and two adult females, Salome and Romina.

It is hoped that Namoki and the youngest Komale will be suitable playmates.

'Trouble conceiving'

John Partridge, of Bristol zoo, said: "Female gorillas are quite rare in the captive breeding programme, so when we were told that a young gorilla from the nursery needed a new home, we applied to have her and were selected, which is fantastic.

"We want to expand our gorilla breeding programme here at Bristol zoo and we have the veterinary and animal husbandry expertise to facilitate this.

"Although Kera is currently too young to breed, she will eventually be able to breed with Jock.

"One of our other adult females, Salome, is getting fairly old now and has a history of having trouble conceiving, so this is also a way of looking to the future of our breeding group."

Her move was recommended as part of the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme which is managed by the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria.

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