CLEVELAND -- Animal rights activists are going to court in an attempt to keep zoo officials from shipping Timmy, a silver-backed lowland gorilla, to the Bronx Zoo and out of the arms of the only female he ever loved.
The Bronx Zoo wants Timmy for breeding purposes but his supporters fear the 33-year-old ape will revert to his antisocial ways if he is separated from Kribe Kate, his mate for the past 19 months.
Gloria Homolak, a lawyer hired by the animal-welfare groups, filed a motion last Friday in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court asking for a temporary restraining order. That would keep Timmy at the Cleveland Zoo until a judge can hear testimony from gorilla experts from around the world. The motion was moved to a federal court by zoo lawyers who cited the federal Endangered Species Act.
U.S. District Court Judge Alice Batchelder scheduled a Thursday hearing on a request for a temporary restraining order that would force the Cleveland zoo to keep Timmy pending a more complete hearing.
Timmy's keepers said they are afraid the separation from Kribe Kate, who is known as Katie, could harm or even kill Timmy and that the move to New York in a cage in the rear of a truck could also traumatize him. At the least, they fear the move might cause Timmy to revert to being introverted and antisocial.
Timmy has been in captivity most of his life, spending at least 30 years in isolation. Until 19 months ago, when he was paired with Katie, he had been antisocial and indifferent toward female gorillas.
But when he met Katie, they began coupling frequently and almost constantly when Katie was in heat, zoo keepers said. They now sleep in each other's arms.
Zoo officials, however, said they were acting under the federal Species Survival Act, wanting Timmy to mate with four female gorillas in the Bronx Zoo and, thereby, possibly increasing the number of captive gorillas. A baby gorilla is reportedly worth about $100,000 to a zoo.