12 December 2023

Gorillas in our midst: Youngster set to say g'day as Mogo zoo faces a summer baby boom

| Claire Sams
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two gorillas

Kaius (front) is about to begin his time on public display, alongside G-Anne. Photo: Zookeeper Chad/Facebook.

Far South Coast zookeepers are hard at work preparing for what they expect will be a busy season – featuring some new arrivals.

Zookeeper Chad Staples said there were some new faces at Mogo Wildlife Park.

“It’s a very real thing that springtime is a big time for babies,” Mr Staples said.

“Most animals time their matings and the birth for those times when there’s going to be a lot of food around.

“It’s just been one of those years when we’ve been very fortunate that several animals have just had or are about to have their babies.”

The zoo welcomed a baby zebra, named Subira, in late October, and Mr Staples said there were also newborn lion cubs that were expected to be on display closer to Christmas.

“There’s a few other animals that are pregnant at the moment, so there will be an absolute baby boom this summer,” he said.

“We’ve got a red panda and hyena pregnant – and depending on the exact dates, they might be giving birth over the Christmas period, as well.”

The coming months will also see another addition to the zoo’s line-up: Kaius is expected to go on public display.

After being raised away from the public eye, the western lowland gorilla will be going on display in two ticketed sessions before he goes on full-time exhibition with the other gorillas.

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It all follows a complicated birthing story whereby Kaius’s mother needed emergency surgery, and Kaius contracted sepsis pneumonia and needed medical treatment himself.

“I’m really excited,” Mr Staples said.

“This is essentially what I have been working towards since he was born.”

Mr Staples stepped in and became Kaius’s surrogate parent after his recovery and nurtured him until he was able to move into a space in the gorilla enclosure alongside G-Anne, another gorilla at the zoo.

“They started doing more and more together during the day, to the point that they’re now virtually each other’s shadow,” he said.

“There’s so much play, there’s bonding – it’s beautiful gorilla behaviour.”

Mr Staples said Kaius’ time on display would start with the two ticketed display sessions in December.

“If we had opened it up to everyone, it could have gone crazy,” he said.

“The easiest way to do control numbers was to offer it out to the season pass holders that have been big supporters of the park.”

But should you miss out on those sessions, Mr Staples said you likely won’t need to wait too much longer to see Kaius in person.

“As soon as I see how these sessions go, that will dictate when he’s fully on display,” he said.

“But I can’t imagine that it’s going to be much longer than another couple of weeks.”

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Mr Staples said he hoped the summer period would result in visitors flocking to the zoo from far and wide.

“With everything the South Coast has gone through over the last couple of years, it would be nice to have a nice, busy summer where there are lots of people enjoying the place again,” he said.

“Most people, when they come and spend time at a wildlife park, get more excited about babies than anything.

“There’s something that tickles most people – and in that way, there’s a lot of reasons for people to come and visit us this summer.”

Mogo Wildlife Park is at 222 Tomakin Road in Mogo and is open from 9 am to 4 pm.

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