A 12-year old has left Devon to start a family in Kent. Matadi, a Western lowland gorilla from Paignton Zoo Environmental Park, has moved to Howletts Wild Animal Park in Kent to start what conservationists hope will be a breeding group.

Born on 23rd March 2003, Matadi was seven years old when he arrived at Paignton Zoo from Twycross Zoo. He made the 5 hour, 300 mile journey to Kent in a special travelling crate loaded inside a secure van. He was given a very special treat of banana to help the journey pass smoothly.

Paignton Zoo's Curator of Mammals, Neil Bemment, who is Vice-coordinator for the Gorilla and Orang utan European Endangered species Programmes, said: "He has grown into an impressive young gorilla weighing in at 365 pounds - that's 26 stone or 165 kilos."

The charity's bachelor group of Western lowland gorillas plays a vital role in the conservation of this Critically Endangered species. Neil: "We provide somewhere for young males to grow up in a social environment. Some, like Matadi, will move on to be the dominant males in bachelor or family groups in other collections as part of the European breeding programme."

It may take Matadi a while to settle in, as has gone from sharing with four bachelor males to a group with three females. It could be quite a culture shock…

There are no plans to bring new young gorillas to Paignton Zoo at this time. The remaining gorillas at Paignton Zoo are 34 year old Pertinax, Kivu (13), N'Dowe (12) and Kiondo (13). Paignton Zoo Environmental Park is a registered charity. For more information go to www.paigntonzoo.org.uk or ring 01803 697500.

See the video clip on our You Tube channel: https://youtu.be/FoG0I7JytbM

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