Sun, Nov 25, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Gorilla accepts two muntjacs as house guests at Taipei Zoo

By Tsai Ya-hua and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Diago the gorilla sits in his enclosure at Taipei Zoo in an undated photograph.

Photo provided by Taipei Zoo

Two weeks after the Taipei Zoo began an experiment with a mixed-species enclosure, Diago the gorilla is living with a pair of Formosan Reeve’s muntjacs introduced to his enclosure without incident, which bodes well for the project’s success, the zoo said.

Earlier this year, Diago’s pack mate, Pao Pao (寶寶), was sent to the Apenhuel Primate Park in the Netherlands, where he is expected to become a pack leader and breed with the females, the zoo said.

Concerned that loneliness and boredom might depress Diago, the zoo said it consulted with primate experts and made his enclosure a better facsimile of the wilderness by introducing other animals.

The muntjacs — a female and its female offspring — were chosen because they were least likely to cause trouble in the enclosure, the zoo said, adding that experts took great care to anticipate possible difficulties.

The night before the muntjacs were placed in the enclosure, the zoo’s head of its African animal division had a nightmare in which Diago became the size of King Kong and tore the muntjacs to pieces, the zoo said.

The fears were unfounded, as gorillas are herbivores and generally peaceful unless provoked by a threat to themselves or their pack, it said, adding that the muntjacs could run from Diago or hide in the unlikely event that he attacks them.

On Oct. 22, the muntjacs were put in the enclosure by themselves before zoo workers reintroduced Diago on Nov. 7, it said.

The gorilla intimidated the muntjacs by beating his chest, and they ran away and hid, the zoo said, but added that after two weeks around Diago, the muntjacs had learned to avoid him by minimizing their daytime activity and staying in a corner.

Diago seems to understand that the muntjacs do not pose a threat to his territory or status and he no longer intimidates them, the zoo said, adding that both species would benefit from their peaceful coexistence.

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