Redwood City-based nonprofit The Gorilla Foundation is prepared for a legal fight to prevent an elderly Sliverback Gorilla named Ndume from being forcibly moved to the Cincinnati Zoo after 27 years living in the foundation’s Woodside sanctuary.
Ndume lived alongside world famous Koko, the gorilla known for having learned sign language, until Koko died this past June. That event has led officials from The Association of Zoos and the Cincinnati Zoo to suspect Ndume has been living alone and requires socialization.
The Gorilla Foundation, however, says it is actively seeking gorilla companions for Ndume and says he should continue to enjoy the companionship of his longtime human caregivers. Ndume’s proposed transport to Ohio will mean he’ll go back on public display and will most likely be forced to live there in isolation from other gorillas, the foundation adds.
Ndume endured “extremely poor conditions” prior to moving to the Woodside Sanctuary in 1991, when he stayed at the Brookfield Zoo and then later the Cincinnati Zoo. At the Gorilla Foundation, Ndume’s “long-standing zoo-related emotional and physical health problems cleared up,” the foundation said.
Ndume, still mourning the loss of Koko, also faces serious health risks from the stress of moving to a new environment, the foundation said.
“The Foundation now intends to present the facts to the Court and trusts that the law will protect Ndume, even though the Cincinnati Zoo will not,” the foundation said in a statement.