Richard and Nuru – Western Lowland Gorillas

Let’s Get to Know Each Other

The leader of the Prague gorilla family and his until recently youngest offspring look a little like Goliath and David when standing next to each other. However, the nearly-two-quintal-weighing male is admiringly patient with the less-than-thirty-kilos-weighing baby boy and is only rarely put off by his son’s romping.

Richard and Nuru – Western Lowland Gorillas. Source: Archives Prague Zoo Richard and Nuru – Western Lowland Gorillas. Source: Archives Prague Zoo

Richard is highly visible among the other Prague gorillas, being huge but slim and athletic, muscular, with silver back and thighs, markedly high top of his head, and pervasive eyes commanding respect at the first glance. He is really able to restore order in his family and interfere emphatically in any quarrel among the females. The more you will be surprised by his real sensitivity. He likes his peace and quiet and feels most satisfied if his whole day runs according to a well-established order; he prefers to let the others examine novelties and is easily put off by a change in the normal daily routine. However, he is an excellent, patient father to the young ones; he can be remarkably gentle and careful with them; sometimes he even plays with his offspring. He also jokes with the keepers now and then – for instance, he hides behind the door when being allowed into the outer enclosure and as soon as one of them approaches to close the door, Richard surprises them and has a wonderful time of his having frightened the keeper.

Richard will celebrate his 25th birthday this year – he was born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, on November 9, 1991. He arrived in Prague in November 2003 to become the new leading male. Females Kijivu and Shinda, whom he joined after his arrival, had come at the zoo one month before him, but, in contrast to Richard, the Gorilla Pavilion had not been new to them: they had lived there before the destructive flood, which had hit Prague in August 2002. After the flood, they had to move out of the pavilion to the Zoo at Dvůr Králové nad Labem for a certain time until their Prague exhibit, damaged by water, was repaired.

It was Kijivu who soon became Richard’s favorite female; one year later, on December 13, 2004, Prague keepers could rejoice over the first baby gorilla born in the history of Czech zoos – female Moja. Since that time, the group has grown by two adult females, Kamba and Bikira, and Kijivu has given birth to three other babies. The youngest one, Nuru, born on December 22, 2012, is the fourth baby born to Richard and Kijivu.

Nuru, whose name means “Light” in Swahili, has been extremely curious and skillful from his birth and the keepers agree that he is clearly the most playful one of all the four Kijivu’s babies. He is not able to stay at one place for long; he runs all the time, does headstands, somersaults, and makes fantastic faces. He plays even with the keepers from behind the window or bars; the keepers build mutual trust in this way and make foundations for the future training of his ability to be examined or vaccinated without the need of administration of an anesthetic.

A peculiar thing is that Nuru is brought up by the oldest female of the group, calm and peaceful quadragenarian Kamba, rather than by his own mother, Kijivu. Kamba lost her own baby in a complicated birth when Nuru was two months old and consequently virtually adopted Kijivu‘s son. Not only does she spend most time with him, take care of him, and carry him on her back, she has even been breastfeeding him from the beginning!

Nuru likes playing with his older brother, Kiburi, most of all. However, he does not hesitate to involve also the other members of the gorilla troop in the game, including the youngest female, Bikira, who has been gathering necessary experience with young ones thanks to him. With naughtiness characteristic of him, he teases even his stately father, Richard. He can afford doing things to Richard none of the females, or even adolescent Kiburi, could afford. The adults forgive the baby this and that in order for him to fully enjoy his trouble-free childhood.

Richard and Nuru

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Meet the 24 most interesting animal inhabitants of Prague Zoo – personalities that you may know from zoo 2010–2012 posters!