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Genes of dead Cincinnati gorilla to live on

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3 Jun 2016


Harambe, a 17-year-old silverback gorilla, was shot dead on Saturday at Cincinnati Zoo by zookeepers who feared for the child’s safety.


After the incident, zoo officials said they had collected a sample of his sperm, raising hopes among distraught fans that Harambe could sire offspring even in death.


However officials at the main U.S body that oversees breeding of zoo animals received the news with some scepticism, saying that it was highly unlikely that the Western lowland gorilla’s contribution of genetic material would be used for breading purposes.


"Currently, it's not anything we would use for reproduction," Kristen Lukas, who heads the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' (AZA) Gorilla Species Survival Plan, said on Wednesday, saying it will be banked and stored “for future use or for research studies".


There are currently 350 Western lowland gorillas in U.S zoos, according to the AZA, which credits zoo, including Cincinnati’s and approves breeding plans. Many females of child-bearing age are given hormonal contraceptives due to robust breeding program which makes the population large enough.


Despite the criticism online, the zoo officials have stood by their decision of shooting the teen gorilla, saying that the 450-pound (200-kg) animal could have easily slain or grievously injured the toddler.


The highly charismatic animals are closely related to humans, making them popular zoo attractions.


Zoo officials did not respond to requests seeking for more details on their plans for Harambe’s sperm.


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Photo credit- Reuters



Anethe Carvalho

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