World First: Gorilla Family to Be Released Into Wild

Male, 5 females, 5 offspring headed to Gabon
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 25, 2012 8:17 AM CDT
World First: Gorilla Family to Be Released Into Wild
A baby western lowland gorilla clings to his mother at Bristol Zoo Gardens in Bristol, Britain Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012.   (AP Photo/Ben Birchall, PA)

(Newser) – British conservationists are preparing to release a full family of 11 western lowland gorillas in Gabon, a feat they call a world first. The family includes a 30-year-old, 440-pound male who was rescued from poachers, as well as his five "wives" and their five offspring, who were raised in captivity, Kent Online reports. The Aspinall Foundation hopes to release the family early next year.

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The organization, which works in the areas of Congo and Gabon where gorillas were first hunted to the point of extinction, is reportedly staging the only current efforts to release gorillas into the wild. Between 1996 and 2006, the group released 51 gorillas. The family's release is part of new plans to set record numbers of animals free. The project comprises "easily the most ambitious and wide-ranging reintroductions of endangered species into the wild ever undertaken anywhere in the world," says the organization's founder. Head to the BBC for video. (Read more gorilla stories.)

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