- Associated Press - Friday, May 23, 2014

ASHEBORO, N.C. (AP) - The North Carolina Zoo is shipping out its five gorillas to try to better meet their psychological and emotional needs.

The zoo in Asheboro plans to send the gorillas to another zoo this fall. The destination has not been determined.

Zoo officials say the move to allow the young males to see adult male role models was recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Gorilla Species Survival Plan.

Plans for the move come eight months after the death of Nkosi, the 21-year-old father of Bomassa and Apollo. They are less than two years old. Zoo officials say without Nkosi, the young males are missing important lessons in how to become an adult gorilla,

Three female gorillas also are being shipped out. The zoo plans to replace the five gorillas this fall with three adult males.

The young males’ behavior has not changed significantly since their father’s death.

“There’s nothing alarming at all,” said zoo spokesman Gavin Johnson. “They’re happy, fun gorillas.”

The Gorilla Species Survival Plan group also wants the young male gorillas to have another gorilla their age. The national group will dictate where the current group of gorillas goes and where the next gorillas will come from, according to Johnson.

“This is something they do to make sure that the breeding stays healthy,” Johnson said.

The zoo plans to renovate the exhibit after the current group leaves, although the details have not been decided, Johnson said.

The Species Survival Plan group is made up of experts and representatives of the 52 American zoos that host a total of 360 Western gorillas.

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