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NZ’s First Gorillas at Home at Orana

NZ’s First Gorillas at Home at Orana

New Zealand’s only gorilla group has settled into their new home at Orana Wildlife Park and are now ready to meet the public! Fataki (12), Fuzu (7) and their half-brother, Mahali (6), arrived in mid-June. They have completed quarantine and Park staff have since been steadily settling the animals to their brand new $6M home.

The exhibit is the most ambitious project ever undertaken at Orana. Construction commenced on 7 July 2014 and was completed on 15 June 2015. The Centre will be officially opened by Hon. Lianne Dalziel Mayor of Christchurch at 1pm tomorrow. Visitors will be able to view the gorillas from Friday.

Orana’s Chief Executive, Lynn Anderson, says: “Our team are incredibly excited about having these magnificent animals at Orana! Fataki weighs 190kg and is a very impressive animal. He is starting to develop a silver back and will become even more majestic with age. The two ‘little’ boys Fuzu and Mahali each weigh around 90kg and are mischievous animals with great characters. Visitors will simply adore them!”

Team Leader of Gorillas, Nichola Creighton, says: “the boys are awesome; it is a very rewarding and challenging experience working with such amazing animals. We are proud to have joined the international zoo-based breeding programme for these critically endangered animals. Our initial role is supporting the programme by housing bachelors and raising awareness on the plight of gorillas. Threats to gorillas are primarily driven by our lifestyle choices, such as habitat loss due to coltan mining.”

Lynn adds: “I am delighted that our dedicated team has successfully delivered this development. We are committed to playing our part in a bright future for Christchurch and have been planning to hold gorillas for eight years! Our original plan was to create a Gorilla Habitat and it was due for completion in 2013. The earthquakes resulted in the project being placed on hold for two years as a result of significantly reduced visitation and income. The time delay led to a revision of the concept; through extensive expert consultation we set about creating a Great Ape Centre capable of holding not only gorillas but also orang-utans (in separate spaces)!

We consider bringing gorillas to Christchurch to be something special for local people who have suffered so much through the earthquakes. Importantly, the development will be a significant drawcard for domestic and international visitors and therefore have a direct economic benefit to the region. Increasing visitor numbers is one of the vital components in the recovery of our city. The Centre is an important part of the Canterbury re-build and signals that Canterbury is open for business.

As a charitable trust, Orana raises 100% of funds for each new development and generating the required funds for this project has been a commendable effort by our team. We gratefully acknowledge the grant organisations, estates, individuals and companies who generously provided funding for the project and thank the contractors who went above and beyond for this key development. We especially acknowledge Ian Cumberpatch Architects Ltd and Strongline South Ltd who were the lead architect and main contractor respectively for the development. Their commitment to the project was outstanding. They have all helped us to bring New Zealand’s first gorillas to Christchurch” concludes Lynn.

Orana Wildlife Park especially wishes to acknowledge the following for their generous grants for this project:
· Lottery Grants Board
· Eureka Trust
· Un Cadeau Charitable Trust
· First Sovereign Trust
· Pub Charity
· The Canterbury Community Trust
· The Southern Trust
· Mainland Foundation
· Brian Mason Scientific & Technical Trust

Fast facts about Gorillas
· Gorillas are the largest and most powerful of all the primates and are one of the Great Apes (along with orang-utans, chimpanzees and bonobos).
· Gorillas can live to 50 years in captivity.
· Gorillas are gentle, social animals that live in close family groups. The group is led by a dominant male called a silverback. The silverback has grey hair on its back which develops with sexual maturity. The silverback is responsible for leading, protecting and defending the group. Adult males are called blackbacks.
· There are two species of gorilla: the Eastern and the Western Gorillas. The Western Gorillas includes the Western Lowland Gorillas (held at Orana) and the Cross River Gorillas. The Eastern Gorillas includes the Eastern Lowland Gorillas and the Mountain Gorillas.


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