New gorillas make debut at Zoo Miami

Barney and Shango were born at San Francisco Zoo

SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE COUNTY – Some very large residents have officially moved into Zoo Miami.

Two gorillas, Barney and Shango, made their zoo debut on Thursday, getting a first look at their new home.

The made their public deput on Friday, where they banged on a door at each other.

"They bang the door because they know it makes a big sound. They want to make the biggest impression to be as frightening as possible to the other gorilla," Zoo Miami spokesman Ron Magill said. 

The western lowland gorillas arrived from Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas on May 20 and have been in quarantine every since.

But on Thursday, the two were introduced to their habitat, which has been undergoing renovations and modifications over the last several months.

Shango, 28, and his younger brother, Barney, 23, were born at the San Francisco Zoo before moving to Sedgwick.

Shango and Barney both came to Zoo Miami as part of a Species Survival Plan recommendation in the hopes that female gorillas will become available for breeding.

"These two males are here, and the hope is now we can find some females in the near future and this exhibit behind me becomes the new love palace for gorillas," Magill said. 

The Zoo Miami gorilla exhibit has been empty for months after one gorilla died of old age and the other was sent to another zoo so she wouldn't be alone. 

While the zoo waits to get female gorillas, the two brothers play a game of challenge and dominance.

"So, you will see a lot of this running and stomping and making sound, and they will kind of avoid each other. It is almost like a rope a dope in the ring," Magill said. 

Western lowland gorillas are a critically endangered species, with males standing over 5 feet tall and weighing over 400 pounds.