CLEVELAND -- Officials at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo are playing matchmakers. The lucky couple: Timmy, a 411-pound male gorilla, and Emmy, his 150-pound prospective mate.
The 12-year-old Emmy will be brought in from the Columbus Zoo for what officials hope will be a successful pairing that will produce the first offspring of their species born at the Cleveland zoo.
Zoo workers will head to Columbus Friday to fetch Emmy, whose mother, Colo, was the born in 1956 in Columbus and was the first gorilla born in captivity in the United States.
Columbus Zoo Director Jack Hanna said he was pleased Cleveland's zoo has a fertile 22-year-old male who will -- it is hoped -- introduce a new blood line for another generation of gorillas.
It's not clear what will happen once the prospective couple is introduced, however, because Timmy has not been been with other gorillas.
Hanna said Emmy is the first gorilla his zoo has allowed out 'on loan' because 'gorillas are like gold from Ft. Knox and zoos that have them, keep them.'
Once Emmy is brought to Cleveland, she and Timmy will stay out of the public spotlight for two weeks. They will be in adjacent cages but will be separated by glass.
By April 1, both gorillas will be placed in adjacent cages on display, with a sliding door separating the two.
Then one night in April, zoo officials will leave the sliding door open -- and see what happens. If neither puts up too much of fight, zoo officials hope the match will take.
Michael Vitantonio, Cleveland zoo director, said there is prestige in successfully breeding gorillas -- an endangered species -- but noted there are financial considerations as well.
It costs $100,000 to $120,000 to import a breeding gorilla from Africa, the only place they are found in the wild, Vitantonio said.