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Port Lympne gorilla brothers heading to Congo in Back to the Wild initiative

By Matt Leclere

A family of gorillas will be swapping Kent for the Congo as they embark on an epic journey into the wild.

The four western lowland gorillas are park favourites at Port Lympne but the brothers are heading to Africa later this month. 

The reserve near Hythe has now set up a campaign - Congo Calling, which is backed by the Congolese government - asking for the public to support the primates returning to the wild.

Four gorilla brothers are going to the wild in Congo from Port Lympne

Four gorilla brothers are going to the wild in Congo from Port Lympne

People can help out with fundraising to give a send-off to the brothers, Fubu, Kangu, Kebu and Kouyou, who are all aged between 13 and 17.

All four gorillas were born at Howletts near Canterbury but have been living at the park's sister reserve, Port Lympne, in recent years, where they have been popular residents with visitors and keepers.

They have been preparing for their new life with subtle changes to their diet and daily routine.

Paul Farthing, the reserve's fundraising chief, said: "We’d love our visitors and supporters to be part of the brothers’ journey.

"There are many ways they can help, including visiting the boys before they go, downloading or making a bon voyage card, which we will be happy to display at Port Lympne, sending a message via our social media channels and of course, donating to help us continue our vital work with this critically endangered species."

The gorillas were born at Howletts but have been living at Port Lympne in recent years both run by the Aspinall Foundation

The gorillas were born at Howletts but have been living at Port Lympne in recent years both run by the Aspinall Foundation

During the first few weeks in their new home - an island in the middle of the River Congo near Brazzaville - the brothers will be under the close watching of the Aspinall Foundation's expert vet and one of their favourite keepers.

They will travel by air, land and water before taking up home in their new home, a 37-acre protected reserve called Ndouna Island.

Amos Courage, overseas project director for The Aspinall Foundation, said: "This is the first repatriation of captive born gorillas to a protected reserve in the Republic of Congo.

"They will make their home on a specially prepared island, called Ndouna Island, which is on the edge of the Lesio Louna Reserve.

"The brothers will become ambassadors for their species, providing tourists an opportunity to view gorillas in their native habitat, subsequently maintaining the tourism revenue necessary to fund the protection and management of the Lesio Louna Reserve."


 

Meet the boys

Kangu  - D.O.B 28.08.99 (18)

Kangu is very easy going with people and he is a bit of a push-over especially with his youngest brother, Fubu. Although generally placid, Kangu does occasionally get into tussels and a while ago this led to him losing a little toe.  Fubu will often try to engage Kangu in play, although Kangu, being a bit more grown up is not always in the mood! 

Four gorilla brothers are going to the wild in Congo from Port Lympne

Four gorilla brothers are going to the wild in Congo from Port Lympne

Kebu – D.O.B 10.03.00 (17)

Kebu is definitely not in charge - despite being the biggest of the four brothers! He’s a very laid back character, nothing bothers him and he gets on well with the keepers, although he tends to keep himself to himself.

He will play with Fubu when he is the right mood but can get intimated and will move away if he sees him coming.

Kebu gets on with all his brothers but will be pushed out when it is feeding time, the keepers make sure the others are occupied so he gets his fair share of food. He will avoid aggression whenever he can, but will stick up for himself if push comes to shove!

Four gorilla brothers are going to the wild in Congo from Port Lympne

Four gorilla brothers are going to the wild in Congo from Port Lympne

Kouyou – D.O.B 01.06.02 (15)

Kouyou is the most skittish, volatile and easily upset of the group. Some outside noises can make him a little jumpy, but he will calm down quickly once the noise quietens down. He has just become a silverback so he can be inclined to flex his muscle.

Four gorilla brothers are going to the wild in Congo from Port Lympne

Four gorilla brothers are going to the wild in Congo from Port Lympne

Fubu – D.O.B 13.10.03 (13)

Fubu is the naughtiest of the four brothers and a typical teenager. He likes to try and throw his weight around, especially at meal times and one of his favourite ways to instigate play with his brothers, is to throw poo at them!

Generally, Fubu is fun loving and gets on well with the other boys. He usually hangs out with Kangu or Kebu when the group are just relaxing and he used to sleep in the same hammock as Kangu when they were smaller, but they're both much too big to share now!

Four gorilla brothers are going to the wild in Congo from Port Lympne

Four gorilla brothers are going to the wild in Congo from Port Lympne

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