Mon, Feb 12, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Pao Pao the gorilla to go abroad for breeding

FATHER-TO-BE?Smuggled to Taiwan in 1987, the 33-year-old primate has worked his way into the hearts of zoo visitors and workers — and developed a taste for guava

By Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff writer, with CNA

Male gorilla Pao Pao is pictured at Taipei Zoo in an undated photo.

Photo courtesy of Taipei Zoo

After an eight-year application process, a male gorilla named Pao Pao (寶寶) at Taipei Zoo is to travel to Apenheul Primate Park in the Netherlands next month to breed.

Pao Pao was two years old when he was smuggled to Taiwan in 1987.

In the wild, young gorillas stay with their mothers until they are 11, when they form their own families, zoo spokesman Eric Tsao (曹先紹) said on Saturday.

Because Pao Pao comes from the wild in Cameroon and gorillas are social animals, Pao Pao’s smuggling suggests that a large number of gorillas were hunted and killed, Tsao said.

As a result, there was no way that the zoo could purchase Pao Pao, he said, adding that Shin Kong Financial Holding Co chairman Eugene Wu (吳東進) donated him to the zoo.

Now approaching his 33rd birthday, Pao Pao has been approved by the European Endangered Species Program’s gorilla species committee to travel to the Netherlands to breed and increase the genetic diversity of the off-site population.

A fan of Pao Pao surnamed Yang (楊) said she lives near the zoo and for the past three years, has visited at least five times a week to speak to Pao Pao.

When she first met Pao Pao at the African animal area, he was sitting in front of the window looking sad, Yang said, adding that this inspired her to learn more about gorillas and the conditions they face.

When Pao Pao becomes a father, Yang said she will definitely visit him in the Netherlands.

Cheng Shan (鄭善), who has worked at the zoo for 27 years and is responsible for gardening, said that although she is not Pao Pao’s direct caregiver, she has developed a deep bond with him.

She always shouts his name while at work, and Pao Pao goes to her, Cheng said.

It has become a habit, Cheng said, adding that she hopes Pao Pao lives a better life in the Netherlands.

Pao Pao enjoys locally grown fruits such as guavas, papayas and oranges, Tsao said.

He especially enjoys guavas, so the zoo has designed guava-shaped farewell cards for the departing gorilla, Tsao added.

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