Just like humans who haven't seen each other in a few years, they began with a formal handshake. But then, the two could just not contain their excitement - First came the squeeze of shoulders, then a giant hug and finally, the ultimate evidence of joy - A rough tumble into the soft grass. That, is how the workers at the Longleat Safari and Adventure Park in Wiltshire, England, are describing last week's joyful reunion of Alf and Kesho, two lowland gorilla brothers that had been separated for three years.
Alf and Kesho, along with younger sibling Evindi were all born and raised in captivity at the Dublin Zoo. However, in 2010, Kesho the oldest of the three was moved to the London Zoo to participate in a breeding program. In the three years he was away, he transformed from a small 285-pound blackback gorilla to a handsome 485-pound silverback.
In fact, Kesho had changed so much, that the park officials were not sure if Alf would even recognize him and first introduced them by placing their cages across each other. But they needn't have worried. Gorillas' that share about 98% of their DNA with humans have a special way of recognizing members of their families or clans - By looking at their nose, because each one of them has a unique nose print, one that doesn't change throughout his/her life.
And these two siblings were no different - They recognized each other right away and immediately began to reach out of their cages to touch each other gently. Twenty-four later, after seeing no aggression, they were released and since then, there has been no looking back - The two now spend their entire days together, making up for the lost three years by tumbling around joyfully.
The best news is that all three siblings will now spend the rest of their lives together at this $4.72mm USD Gorilla Colony that has been established for the many bachelor lowland gorillas that are currently in the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria breeding program.
Western lowland gorillas are critically endangered in the wild. Largely found in the dense forests of Northern and Central Africa, these majestic animals have become victims of deforestation and poaching in recent years. Scientists estimate that there are only between 100,000 to 150,000 of the species remaining in wild.
Resources: Dailymail.co.uk, huffingtonpost.com. bbc.co.uk