Cincinnati Zoo fights to bring silverback gorilla Ndume back

Complaint filed against The Gorilla Foundation

Cincinnati Zoo fights to bring silverback gorilla Ndume back
Ndume is now living alone for the first time in his life. (Cincinnati Zoo) (Source: Schupp, Kim)

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The Cincinnati Zoo has filed a complaint with the The Gorilla Foundation (TGF) over getting Ndume, the silverback western lowland gorilla, back home to the Tri-State.

The 37-year-old gorilla was born in Cincinnati and moved to TGF in California in 1991 to be a social companion for female gorilla Koko.

When Koko passed away in June, Ndume began living alone for the first time in his life.

Based on a recommendation from The Association of Zoos and Aquariums Gorilla Species Survival Plan, Ndume would be returned back to Cincinnati upon the death of Koko.

"AZA scientists considered all options available for Ndume and determined that Cincinnati Zoo could provide him with the best home after Koko’s death left him completely isolated from other gorillas. We have ten gorillas, including relatives of his, who can provide socialization opportunities, qualified vets, dedicated, highly-experienced gorilla caregivers, and an excellent AZA-accredited facility that we recently renovated and expanded,” Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard said in the complaint.

However, zoo officials said TGF is not cooperating with the move and ignored their request for Cincinnati Zoo staff to come to California to start conditioning Ndume for transfer. They said they had to take legal action.

TGF President Penny Patterson told Maynard she did not intend to cooperate with the move.

PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel and Vice President of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders made this statement regarding the lawsuit:

Gorillas' lives revolve around their families, yet the Gorilla Foundation is keeping Ndume in solitary confinement. He deserves to have the opportunity to thrive and socialize with other gorillas, and PETA supports the Cincinnati Zoo’s efforts to remove him from the Gorilla Foundation’s tumbledown facility, with its history of failures in both cleaning and veterinary care.

FOX19 NOw reached out to TGF for comment, but they have yet to respond.

Courts will now have to decide where Ndume will go.

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