Kent, 14 June 2023: Howletts Wild Animal Park near Canterbury, on June 14th, officially marked the birth of its 150th baby gorilla, further cementing their status as the leading breeder of this precious species.

The young male, named Kumbi, was born in July 2022 and has spent the past few months forging a strong bond with his family and keepers. The increasingly confident baby gorilla can be seen in the gorilla enclosure alongside his family troop.

The Howletts Wild Animal Trust (THWAT), which oversees Howletts and their sister park, Port Lympne Hotel & Reserve is the world’s most successful breeder of western lowland gorillas. With 150 births since 1975, THWAT’s breeding programme has produced more gorilla babies than every other UK zoo and wildlife park combined and is responsible for 66% of all gorillas ever born in the UK.

It is hoped that one day Kumbi will join the other gorillas that THWAT’s charity partner, The Aspinall Foundation (TAF), has released into the forests of the Batéké Plateau in Gabon as part of its Gorilla Protection Project. TAF and THWAT have so far collaborated to rewild 27 gorillas born at Howletts and Port Lympne in areas of protected wilderness in Congo and Gabon. 

Gorilla 2

The recording-breaking breeding success of the gorilla groups at Howletts and Port Lympne is doubtlessly the result of the exceptional level of care provided by their dedicated team of highly experienced animal keepers and vets. The gorillas’ diet is the best in the world, with over 100 different food choices and, unlike many other animal parks, the Howletts team never lock the gorillas into viewing areas. Instead, the animals are free to choose when and where they wish to be seen.

Commenting on the milestone, Damian Aspinall, Chairman of The Aspinall Foundation, said: “We firmly believe that animals belong in the wild and are committed to continuing to facilitate their return to areas of protected wilderness. We have been successfully reintroducing gorillas into the wild for the last 40 years and are proud to have had over 35 births to released animals so far. Despite our decades-long success in rewilding these incredible animals, we remain the only organisation in the world to return gorillas to their rightful homes in this way and our hope is that one day, Kumbi will follow in the footsteps of other gorillas and be rewilded in Gabon.” 

Gorilla 3

Lorna Wanless, Head of Gorilla Section at Howletts, said: “We’re thrilled that visitors can experience the wonderful sight of Kumbi and his lovely interactions with his family. Kumbi’s father, Ebeki, is our resident silverback and is very fond of playing with his increasingly inquisitive you son.”

As well as seeing the young gorilla up-close, visitors to Howletts can also book an encounter with the gorillas:

Gorilla 2

Or, support The Aspinall Foundation’s amazing overseas work and back to the wild campaigns by adopting a gorilla.

Gorilla 4

Autor Andrew Bleiman


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