There were emotional scenes when gorilla brothers who hadn’t seen each other for more than two years were reunited for the first time at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park.
The brothers, who were born at Dublin Zoo, met up again at the spectacular new Gorilla Colony at Longleat.
At around 220 kgs, 13-year-old western lowland silverback gorilla Kesho is a force to be reckoned with and keepers were unsure how he would react to meeting up with his nine-year-old kid brother Alf.
However there was no need to be worried as the brothers acted like they had never been apart.
“The keepers from Dublin weren’t entirely sure the brothers would even know each other, but the moment they met you could just see the recognition in their eyes,” said Longleat keeper Mark Tye.
“We had been slightly concerned how they would react to each other and whether the big brother could put up with little Alf’s playfulness.
“However they have formed a really tight bond in just a few weeks and Kesho is actually incredibly tolerant; allowing both Alf and six-year-old Evindi to jump all over him.
“It’s fantastic for Alf to have an older brother to look up to and learn from and Kesho seems to enjoy being the centre of attention,” he added.
Kesho was moved from Dublin to London Zoo as part of a captive breeding programme and hadn’t seen his siblings since.
Now all three are making a new home at Longleat in their purpose-built new Gorilla Colony alongside a fourth male gorilla called Boulas.
Featuring more than a dozen mature trees in an extensive outdoor grassed area, the spacious new enclosure overlooks Longleat’s Half Mile Lake and utilises natural boundaries wherever possible without the barriers of bars or glass.
In addition to the existing trees, keepers have installed a selection of outdoor climbing logs and frames. The gorillas will also share a large indoor shelter with a communal area featuring ropes, swings and climbing apparatus.