A female Lowland Gorilla named Gorina, 33, has been acting upset ever since her 49-year-old mate Gorirong died last month of old age, which has zookeepers at Seoul Zoo in Gyeoggi worried.
Since the death of Gorirong, who had been cohabiting with her for 24 years at the zoo, Gorina’s fur has started to become rough and she has been acting violently. She also often sits still for days, gazing vacantly at the sky.
In an attempt to help Gorina, the only remaining Lowland Gorilla in the country and valued at 1 billion won ($900,000), Seoul Zoo staffers are trying everything from providing entertainment to making special meals.
“Gorina spent days gazing at the sky after Gorirong’s death. We all felt so sorry for her,” said Park Hyeon-tak, a zookeeper at Seoul Zoo who has been taking care of the gorilla couple for four years.
Lowland Gorillas, which have a lifespan of 50 years, are one of the most expensive and critically endangered species in the world.
Park is working hard to make sure nothing bad happens to Gorina, who seems to be suffering from depression.
“She wasn’t that friendly with Gorirong. She was quite violent and it was Gorirong who got stressed by his mate,” said Park. “Now that he is gone, though, Gorina is experiencing a deeper loss than we expected.”
Gorina’s diet has been changed, in hopes it will help. Her main meal now is boiled chicken, which was also given to Gorirong when he was sick.
“Gorina’s health is the most important thing right now,” said Park.
In order to encourage her to be more active, Park hides Gorina’s snacks or packs them in many layers to stimulate Gorina’s curiosity. He has even given her newspapers and magazines to look at.
“Gorillas are inquisitive, like humans, and it’s important to stimulate their curiosity,” said Park. A few weeks back, Park tried to put Gorina in a room with other animals to relieve her loneliness, but he gave up on the idea “because she became so violent, it could have hurt the other animals staying with her.”
Gorirong, who was the nation’s only male Lowland Gorilla and one of the star attractions at the zoo, died on Feb. 17, ending his 44 years of fascinating zoo visitors in Korea. Gorirong was 5 when he was brought to Korea from Africa. As soon as Gorirong’s health showed signs of deteriorating, a month before his death, vets and zoo staff took extra special care of him, but the efforts failed to save his life.
Although Gorirong and Gorina cohabited for 24 years, the two didn’t have any offspring; gorillas in captivity reproduce infrequently.
Now, Seoul Zoo and CHA Medical Center have decided to use artificial insemination for Gorina, in hopes she can still reproduce, and maybe become happy once again.
Story credit and photo here