First gorilla born and raised in Prague zoo relocated to Spain

Moja, photo: CTK

Just two weeks after a newborn gorilla was transported from Prague to Stuttgart following repeated failed attempts to reunite it with its mother, Prague zoo has bid farewell to another gorilla, Moja, the first low-land gorilla born and raised in captivity in the Czech Republic. The animal has reached sexual maturity and her minders decided to move her away to prevent in-breeding in the pack. Her new home is the Cabárceno National Park in northern Spain where Moja was transported on Tuesday.

Moja,  photo: CTK
Moja, whose name means “the first” in Swahili will turn seven years old in a couple of weeks’ time. Born on 13th December 2004, to mother Kijivu who had come from Australia and father Richard from the UK, Moja has become somewhat of an animal celebrity in the Czech Republic – being the first baby gorilla born here and also thanks to a multimedia project co-organized by Czech Radio. For four years cameras monitored the gorilla compound and the show was broadcast online.

Initially it took some time to determine the baby’s sex and a DNA test had to confirm it but now that it is perfectly clear Moja is female and sexually mature, vets decided it was time for her to leave her native zoo. First she would not let herself be sedated but she finally fell asleep and was transported in a container to Prague’s Ruzyně Airport. Pavel Brandl is in charge of Prague Zoo's gorilla compound.

Photo: CTK
“We can’t say she’s enthusiastic. Surely no one is happy inside a transport container. But from a veterinary point of view she doing alright and she’s just fine.”

Among those who came to wave Moja goodbye was Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda who said the young gorilla had become a symbol of Prague. Now she has to part with the city to find a new mate.

After almost four hours and 2000 kilometres, the charter plane carrying Moja, vets, minders and journalists, landed in Spain where experts hope she will mate successfully. Miroslav Bobek is the head of Prague Zoo.

Miroslav Bobek,  Bohuslav Svoboda,  photo: CTK
“There is a male called Nicky in the Cabárceno National Park who was born in the wild. From our point of view he is a very suitable mate for Moja.”

After a short quarantine, Moja will be slowly getting to know her new group which might take up to six months. According to experts she will have mingled completely with the new pack in three years’ time. By then she will also have forgotten about her life back in Prague.