Miami-Dade County

They’re strong, hairy and quite a catch. Zoo Miami debuts new bachelor gorilla brothers.

Gorilla brothers debut at Zoo Miami

Gorilla brothers, Shango and Barney, enjoy their new home at Zoo Miami on Friday, June 16, 2017.
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Gorilla brothers, Shango and Barney, enjoy their new home at Zoo Miami on Friday, June 16, 2017.

Weighing in at a whopping 425 pounds, Shango, 28, is tall and powerful with a long face, small eyes and deep brow.

His younger brother Barney, 23, is slightly shorter, has large eyes and looks like he has a perpetual smile.

“These two guys are just very handsome gorillas,” said Ron Magill, a spokesman for Zoo Miami.

The bachelor brothers will make their public debut Friday — marking the first time in several months that the zoo will have gorillas on display.

The goal, Magill said: Find the boys the perfect mate through the Species Survival Plan, a captive-breeding plan.

“We want this to be a love castle for the gorillas,” Magill said of the newly renovated 1-acre gorilla enclosure that has platforms, climbing structures and ropes. “It’s paradise here for them.”

In January, Zoo Miami’s matriarch gorilla, Josephine died just shy of her 50th birthday. After Josephine’s death, the zoo’s only gorilla — 42-year-old Fredrika — was transferred to another zoo.

The zoo’s longtime silverback gorilla, J.J., died in October 2014 at age 35. He had been at the zoo for three decades.

On May 20, the brothers both came to Zoo Miami from Sedgwick County Zoo in Kansas. They have been in quarantine for 30 days and are ready to be let loose in their new home.

Magill said the brothers, both silverbacks — a name given to adult males that develop gray/silver hair on their backs once they are sexually mature — have great personalities, although Barney “comes off as more jovial.”

“Shango is a little more serious,” he said. “That may be because he has a more serious face.”

Magill said having a gorilla exhibit at the zoo is very important because “people see a lot of themselves in these animals.”

“The gorilla is such an iconic animal,” he said. “You can’t help but look into the eyes of a gorilla and see a soul.”

Carli Teproff: 305-376-3587, @CTeproff

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