NEW YORK -- Timmy the gorilla, torn from the only mate he's ever been happy with, arrived at the Bronx Zoo Friday to be become the top banana among a bevy of females.
The 33-year-old silverback lowland gorilla had been the center of a highly publicized legal fight to keep him at the Cleveland Zoo with his mate, Kribe Kate.
But a U.S. District court judge Thursday ruled against animal welfare groups and said Timmy could be shipped to New York for breeding purposes.
Timmy arrived at the Bronx Zoo in fine shape Friday morning after an overnight trip from Cleveland in a specially equipped truck.
Without as much as a peek at the four female gorillas he will be introduced to -- Tunuka, Pattycake, Huersanita and Julia -- Timmy was whisked into quarantine where he will be observed around the clock for at least a month, said New York Zoological Society spokesman Peter Glankoff.
'He is being well cared for,' Glankoff said. 'The Bronx Zoo has the most exacting standards for animals that exist in the world.'
In their fight against the move, opponents argued unsuccessfully that it would be cruel to separate Timmy from Kate, the only female gorilla he has ever accepted.
They said the aging gorilla was a recluse for most of his life until meeting the even older Katie, who turned him into a real lover. Separation could make him antisocial and introverted, they said.
Zoologists argued in turn that silverback gorillas are in danger of becoming extinct, and fertile males must be used not only to keep the species going but from becoming inbred.
Glankoff dismissed the argument that it is cruel to take Timmy away from his mate.
'First of all, gorillas are polygamous,' he said. 'Lowland gorillas are no exception, and Timmy's residence at the Bronx Zoo will be more similar to a natural situation than it would be with one infertile female.'
As soon as Timmy is judged fit to be introduced to the others in the troupe, he will be placed in a cage next to one of the females so they get used to each other, Glankoff said.
From then on, nature will be allowed to take its course.
'You've just got to remember that saving wildlife is what's it's all about,' Glankoff said.