The Little Rock Zoo reports that Kivu, a 24-year-old western lowland gorilla that arrived in June  from a Santa Barbara zoo, is getting accustomed to his new larger surroundings and getting acquainted with the previously all-female local gorilla population.

Said the Zoo:


“We’ve been very careful to slowly introduce Kivu to the females. Until recently, they’ve been separated by fencing so they could see and smell each other in the off-exhibit area,” Zoo Director Mike Blakely said. “You can never predict how introductions will go – if animals will get along, but we’ve been very pleased.”

Curator Syd Tanner said Kivu is still hesitant in the new enclosure and has been spending short periods of time outdoors.

“Each day, he stays out a little longer and goes a little farther into the enclosure,” she said. “There’s quite a bit more space than he’s used to and he’s not yet comfortable with having people above him in the observation areas.”

Tanner also noted that the Arkansas summer heat may be playing a factor.

“He’s a smart boy,” she said. “He may just prefer being in the air conditioning.”

The hope is that Kivu will breed to help preserve the threatened species, which is native to Africa but threatened for habitat destruction and hunting.