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Gorillas welcomed to their new $6 million dollar home at Orana Wildlife Park

30 July 2015

By Rowan Worner, GM Marketing, Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism

It's always an exciting day in our team when we are privileged to be invited to openings of new attractions, activities and accommodation in the region. The arrival of three stunning gorillas to Orana Wildlife Park is no exception as it will give a huge boost to what is already an outstanding attraction. 

Meet Fataki, Fuzu and Mahali...

Three beautiful Western Lowland gorillas, Fataki (12), Fuzu (7) and their half-brother Mahali (6) arrived at Orana Wildlife Park in mid-June. The Orana staff have been working to ensure they are well settled into their new home before their big day tomorrow. That will see the new Great Ape Centre open to the public for the first time. 

Our team are incredibly excited about having these magnificent animals at Orana! Fataki weighs 190kg and is a very impressive animal. The two ‘little’ boys Fuzu and Mahali each weigh around 90kg and are mischievous animals with great characters. Visitors will simply adore them!

Lynn Anderson, CEO Orana Wildlife Park

Great Ape Centre - Ambitious Project

Nestled amongst the 80 hectare expanse that makes up New Zealand's only open range zoo, the new Great Ape Centre itself is considered by Orana staff to be the most ambitious project they have ever undertaken. The $6 million centre was the culmination of many years of planning and fundraising, construction began on 7 July 2014 and took a little under a year to complete. 

With the addition of the gorillas to its already 400 strong animal family, Orana Wildlife Park has joined the international zoo-based breeding programme for these critically endangered animals. Their initial role is supporting the programme by holding bachelors and raising awareness on the plight of gorillas. Threats to gorillas are primarily driven by lifestyle choices such as habitat loss due to coltan mining.

The boys are awesome; it is a very rewarding and challenging experience working with such amazing animals. We are proud to have joined the international zoo-based breeding programme for these critically endangered animals.

Nichola Creighton, Team Leader of Gorillas, Orana Wildlife Park

Why are Gorillas Amazing Animals

  • Gorillas are the largest and most powerful of all the primates and are one of the Great Apes (along with orang-utans, chimpanzees and bonobos). 
  • Gorillas can live to 50 years in captivity.
  • Gorillas are gentle, social animals that live in close family groups. The group is led by a dominant male called a silverback. The silverback has grey hair on its back which develops with sexual maturity. The silverback is responsible for leading, protecting and defending the group. Adult males are called blackbacks. 
  • There are two species of gorilla: the Eastern and the Western Gorillas. The Western Gorillas includes the Western Lowland Gorillas (held at Orana) and the Cross River Gorillas. The Eastern Gorillas includes the Eastern Lowland Gorillas and the Mountain Gorillas.