No monkeying around on special DHL flight

Kiburi in Gorilla Kingdom at London Zoo. Photo: DHL

DHL Express has delivered a Western lowland gorilla to ZSL London Zoo as part of an international breeding programme for the critically endangered species.

18-year-old Kiburi, who lived in Zoo Loro Parque in Tenerife, travelled in a custom-built crate for the 1,903 mile door-to-door journey – supported by a dedicated team of zookeepers, aircraft engineers, cargo handlers, security teams, pilots and drivers.

The 193 kg and 5ft 4 inches tall silverback enjoyed an in-flight meal of nutritious leafy greens, snacked on leeks and a banana and had a refreshing drink of cold fruit tea during his journey.

Kiburi arrives at Heathrow on Friday 18 November

Gorilla Kiburi arrives at Heathrow on Friday 18 November. Photo: DHL

Arriving in London late on Friday, November 18, Kiburi slept over at Heathrow Airport before arriving at the Zoo at 8am the following morning.

A team of vets and zookeepers at London Zoo were on hand to receive the special delivery, and after giving Kiburi a check-up, introduced him to his new Gorilla Kingdom home.

Roy Hughes, EVP network operations & aviation Europe at DHL Express, said: “Helping Kiburi move to London has been a huge privilege.

“The logistics effort behind transporting him was no mean feat but our team of experts, working closely with ZSL London Zoo and Loro Parque, went to every length to ensure his journey was safe and comfortable.

“Everyone at DHL is very invested in this conservation move, and we look forward to seeing Kiburi enjoying his new Gorilla Kingdom home.”

Kiburi will lead the zoo’s current troop, females Mjukuu and Effie, and youngsters Alika and Gernot, in the family’s Gorilla Kingdom home – with hopes that the match-making effort will lead to a further increase to the gorilla population.

The transport was four years in the making. Following the passing of London Zoo’s male Kumbuka in 2018, ZSL London Zoo began the search for the perfect male to take his place, working with the European Endangered Species Breeding Program (EEP) coordinator for Western lowland gorillas, which holds detailed records on each gorilla in the programme.

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Rebecca Jeffrey

Rebecca Jeffrey
New to aviation journalism, I joined Air Cargo News in late 2021 as deputy editor. I previously worked for Mercator Media’s six maritime sector magazines as a reporter, heading up news for Port Strategy. Prior to this, I was editor for Recruitment International (now TALiNT International). Contact me on: [email protected]