By MARTIN ROBINSON
Time for bed: Rigo sleeping at Melbourne Zoo after a roll in the hay with four females
It is a tough, and clearly tiring job, but somebody has got to do it.
Sleepy Rigo has just mated with four females in one day and takes on a very human pose afterwards to grab a well-earned snooze.
After 16 years on his own in a cage the 41-year-old silverback is being allowed to hang around with other primates at Melbourne Zoo in Australia.
Gentle: Julia sits with body-language just like a human as she stretches her legs in the midday sun
Keepers hope he will continue to get to know the females there better and produce offspring as they are all part of the endangered Western Lowland species.
And he has a bevy of beauties to choose from, including Julia, Yakini and Yuska, who despite their serious expressions are all keen to become a mum.
These beautiful photos, taken by Australian photographer Arthur Xanthropoulos, show the very gentle side to the animals, which have been hunted to the edge of extinction.
Gentle: Silverback Yuska is one of four females at the zoo and originally comes from central Africa
'He has been introduced to eight other gorillas, four of them females, so he can continue his species. The hope is the females may trigger his instinctive behaviour,' he said.
His mission is to show the human-like qualities of gorillas at Melbourne Zoo as part of his project, which he calls 97 Percent Human.
The zoo has housed gorillas since 1980 and most of them have been rescued from poachers and exotic animal smugglers.
Despite being legally protected the tiny gorilla population are often captured by criminal gangs and sold for huge sums to unscrupulous foreign zoos and private collectors.
Pondering: A thoughtful Yakini sits in the grass, and it is hoped she will help continue the endangered species by mating with Rigo
'My project, which I call 97 percent human was designed to capture the humanistic side of primates,' Arthur said.
'Many primate species share 97 percent their genetic make up with humans.
'But it wasn't simply about photographing these animals.
'More importantly it was about capturing a side to them that complimented that close genetic make up evident in their behaviour, expression and interactions.
'Ultimately my hope and intent has been to use these unique captures to create an environmental awareness of how endangered these animals are in the wild.
'The zoo environment allows me to do just that as the animals are readily accessible to the viewing public.'
Saturday, October 8, 2011
Gorillas in a tryst! Tired Rigo has to lie down after mating with four females in a day following 16 years in a cage on his own
By MARTIN ROBINSON