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Progress in the Western lowland gorilla Gorilla gorilla gorilla European Endangered Species Programme: a review of the decade 2002–2011

Vermeer, J., Abelló, M. T., Holtkötter, M.
International zoo yearbook 2014 v.48 no.1 pp. 234-249
Gorilla gorilla, birth rate, breeding, endangered species, neonatal mortality, progeny
In the past decade, some major improvements have been achieved in the management of the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) for the Western lowland gorilla Gorilla gorilla gorilla. To assess the achievements of the current management approach, data on 225 births, 96 deaths and 154 transfers were collected from the most recent international studbook and analysed. Compared with the preceding decade, neonatal mortality and hand‐rearing rates have decreased, resulting in a lower but acceptable birth rate. Transfers in most cases proved to be successful: almost all gorillas were integrated into their new groups and most animals introduced to a breeding group had their first offspring within 2 years. The results show that the current management approach is successful, and that the population is sustainable and has good genetic health. Several aspects of gorilla management are presented and discussed. One of the major challenges for both the Gorilla EEP Species Committee (GEEPC) and the holders is to find a solution for the increasing problem of ♂♂ not needed for the breeding programme at any given time.