London Zoo welcomes new silverback gorilla Kiburi

A critically endangered gorilla has travelled to London Zoo on a first-class flight from Tenerife.

The 18-year-old, 193kg silverback named Kiburi was delivered by DHL Express for an international breeding programme.

The 5ft 4ft (165cm) tall primate will join the zoo's current troop - females Mjukuu and Effie and youngsters Alika and Gernot - in their Kingdom home.

He enjoyed an in-flight meal of greens, leeks and bananas, keeper Glynn Hennessy said.

He added: "After spending his first few days at London Zoo settling into his new digs behind-the-scenes, Kiburi today ventured into the troop's indoor play-gym for the first time, where he enjoyed a breakfast of juicy red peppers and tested out the area's new rope swings - a housewarming gift from the ZSL team."

Kiburi, who travelled from Zoo Loro Parque in Tenerife, made a 1,903-mile door-to-door journey - travelling in a custom-built crate supported by a team of zookeepers, aircraft engineers, cargo handlers, security teams, pilots and drivers.

The move was four years in the making.

Following the passing of the zoo's male Kumbuka in 2018, staff began the search for the perfect male to take his place.

"We wanted to find a gorilla to lead the troop in Kumbuka's stead, which is an important part of a healthy gorilla group's social structure," Mr Hennessy said.

"We were excited when they suggested Kiburi - a playful but authoritative silverback who had just come of age - but we wanted to make sure, so we flew out to meet him last November and spent five days getting to know him and watching how he interacted with other gorillas.

"We found him to be a calm, friendly individual and a great fit for our own gorilla family's dynamic."

Mr Hennessy added: "He loves a lie-in in the mornings and is more active in the afternoon, which is why we spent the past few weeks installing lots of fun new climbing apparatus for him to enjoy - when he ventures out of bed!"

Visitors to the zoo will be able to see Kiburi from December.