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Ganyeka and the keeper

12 March 2013

In this month’s animal profile we speak to keeper Kathy Scanlon about Werribee Open Range Zoo’s 12 year old gorilla Ganyeka. Born in 2000 as part of Melbourne Zoo’s breeding program, Ganyeka has settled in nicely to his spectacular new home at Werribee with brother Yakini and father Motaba.

Like all good, energetic males, Ganyeka starts his day with an intensive exercise and training regime. This provides Ganyeka with an opportunity to show off his intelligence as well as perform colour and shape recognition challenges.

Ganyeka enjoys a challenge and often will use sticks as tools to help him solve problems such as how to reach his breakfast bucket. He eats almost three kilograms of fruit and vegetables a day and gets very excited if any dried fruits are on the menu.

Despite his regular morning trainings, Ganyeka is not what you would class a ‘morning gorilla’ and has been known to get a bit cranky with keepers during his exercises. On these mornings it is best that his primary keeper Kelly is on hand to settle him down as he has been known to use his love of sticks to poke his ‘keeper’ problem away.

Although Ganyeka has a wading pool on his doorstep, he rarely likes to get wet and instead he chooses to munch down on iceblocks and frozen mangoes to escape the recent hot weather.

He has also enjoyed the opportunity to show off his artistic side and uses a ‘gorilla artist’ technique known as fingerprinting to create his masterpieces. Some of his works are even on display at Werribee Open Range Zoo for art critics to marvel.

With his birthday fast approaching, keepers are busy organising Ganyeka’s 13th birthday party and have invited everyone along to help celebrate this April. Plus, you now have the opportunity to meet Ganyeka, Motaba and Yakini in an  exclusive 'behind the scenes' tour of their new home. Bookings are essential so make sure you get in fast.