Local News

N.C. Zoo Officials To Breed Female Gorillas Using Human Procedure

Posted January 28, 2003

— The

North Carolina Zoological Park

in Asheboro is taking part in a national project. Zoo officials are trying to breed female gorillas by using a procedure designed for people.

"The techniques that will be used are basically the same type of techniques that would be used in human in vitro fertilization," said Dr. Michael Loomis, chief zoo veterinarian.

The process will allow researchers to select the sex of the baby. Zoo officials said they need more females because they cannot keep mature males together due to them fighting.

"That leaves the captive population in the United States as a whole with an excess of male gorillas," Loomis said.

Right now, the North Carolina zoo has five gorillas, including two young males.

"The three females that we have here will most likely be used as donor females. Eggs will be collected from them," Loomis said.

The gorilla mothers will be selected and implanted with fertilized eggs based on their past mothering skills.

"One thing we don't want to do is to have to hand-raise the babies because when you do that, you take them out of their natural social structure and basically, they are no longer a normal gorilla when you do that," Loomis said.

The first round of procedures begins in the spring. The last time a baby gorilla was born at the zoo was in 1989. Kwanza moved to Chicago in 1998.

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