Jasiri’s new chapter
This year has been an eventful one for the gorillas and their care team. In fact, for the past several months, the Gorilla Care Team was very busy preparing for the transfer of one of our bachelors, Jasiri, to another accredited zoo. As per recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Gorilla Species Survival Plan® (SSP), Jasiri has traveled all the way up north to Canada to start his own family group, and we couldn’t be more excited for him! Born at Zoo Atlanta in 1998, Jasiri has since spent several years as a member of one of our bachelor groups, along with Willie B. Jr., and is one of several offspring fathered by Ozzie, who also lives here at the Zoo and has the prestigious title of oldest living male gorilla in in the world!
While you would most likely see gorillas living in family groups in the wild, bachelor groups have also been observed and serve a very important social function. Oftentimes, after young males leave the family group they were born into, they will head out on their own to seek out females to start their own family group. Depending on the presence of females or other family groups in the area, that young male may not immediately be in a position to establish his own group and will instead join up with other males in the area to form a bachelor group. In doing so, he can socialize and learn from the other bachelors in his group, all the while foraging, nesting, and keeping each other safe. While bachelor groups can occasionally last several years up to a lifetime, they often dissolve earlier as the members branch off to join other social groups, often family groups of their own. Jasiri will be joining several females at the Calgary Zoo and establishing a family group, the first time he will have done so. As the silverback in that group, his role will be to monitor the safety and well-being of every individual gorilla present and help keep the peace between group members. Additionally, he will have the opportunity to father offspring, something which we are all very excited about!
The Gorilla Care Team planned for many weeks for the actual transfer. Jasiri travelled in a secure crate made specifically to house silverback gorillas and rode in a vehicle transport from Atlanta, Georgia straight to Calgary in Alberta, Canada. As you can probably imagine, this has taken a lot of coordination between Zoo Atlanta and the Calgary Zoo, including cooperation with national and international guidelines. To assist in his journey, Jasiri was joined by Dr. Sam Rivera, one of our Veterinarians here at Zoo Atlanta, and Josh Meyerchick, Lead Keeper in Gorillas at Zoo Atlanta. This is a common occurrence with animal transfers, and their job was to look after him throughout the entire transport process and be present every step of the way to circumnavigate any potential difficulties that may arise. Additionally, they helped keep him comfortable over the course of the drive and assist with the acclimation to his new home. Jasiri’s safety and well-being was top priority, as is the case with any animal transport, and team members from both zoological facilities worked together to ensure the transfer went smoothly.
The Gorilla SSP works with zoological facilities all over the world to assist in the long-term health and stability of gorillas in human care. Because of this, they are a crucial aspect in managing gorillas in a zoological setting. With this recommendation, Jasiri will be helping contribute to the population of gorillas in zoos and helping his species thrive for generations to come. Gorillas are critically endangered, which means they are at the last stop on the line to extinction and need all the help they can get if they are going to remain prevalent in the natural world. Zoo Atlanta’s partnership with the Gorilla SSP has led to the formation of all of our current social groups, as well as all of the gorilla births here at the Zoo! Of course, while his Atlanta family is going to miss him, we are thrilled at Jasiri’s prospects as the silverback of his very own family group. If you ever find yourself in Calgary, stop by and say hello!
Keeper II, Primates