Thu, June 10, 2010
Lifestyle > Society

Gorillas embrace as they meet for first time

2010-06-10 08:37:40 GMT2010-06-10 16:37:40 (Beijing Time)  SINA.com

The animals hug after going through their greeting ritual

Mbeli rides on Johari's back as they ape around

Mbeli meets Johari for the first time at Melbourne Zoo

In the world of gorilla etiquette, it appears the handshake never quite caught on.

Instead a quick spin on the dancefloor seems the appropriate way of getting to know one another.

And having met for the first time, these female gorillas rapidly got to grips with some complicated moves.

First, ten-year-old Johari allowed Mbeli, six, to climb on her back and ride facing backwards when they were introduced at Melbourne Zoo in Australia.

Then the partners swapped positions, with Mbeli - a Western Lowland gorilla from Sydney's Taronga Zoo - giving Johari a lift.

Finally they ended with a more conventional ballroom stance, standing and embracing to show their mutual approval.

Mbeli's arrival has brought the number of gorillas at the zoo to nine - with the oldest being Rigo, a 40-year-old male.

A statement on Taronga Zoo's website said: 'It was a sad day for primate keepers when our eldest juvenile female gorilla, Mbeli, departed for Melbourne Zoo.

'Our keepers have been working very closely with her over the past few months training her for this big day.

'The day started off as any normal day in the Gorilla House, with keepers meeting to discuss the morning’s events and then positioning the gorillas.

'All went smoothly until the family realised what was happening and Kibabu, our silverback, became very protective.

'He let the keepers know he wasn’t happy with what was going on in no uncertain terms, even vocalising at them.

'A lot of this is just bluff and it is quite natural for a silverback to react in this way.

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