Gorilla leaves St. Louis Zoo as part of breeding program

Zoo officials said they were sad to see Nadaya go, but are excited about what lies ahead.

ST. LOUIS — The Saint Louis Zoo has said goodbye to one of its residents in hopes of helping its species for years to come.

Western lowland gorilla Nadaya arrived safely at Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Washington last week. Zookeepers decided to move him as part of a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

The breeding program considers an animal’s personality and genetics to decide where the animal might have the best opportunity to create a family.

Nadaya has lived with a “single” group of male gorillas since arriving at the Saint Louis Zoo in 2011 with her half-brother Bakari. In Seattle, he will join a group of adult female western lowland gorillas, where zookeepers hope he will start his own family.

Zoo officials said they were sad to see Nadaya go, especially the primate care team, but are excited about what lies ahead.

“Nadaya is an incredible gorilla, and we are thrilled that he has the opportunity to have a family of his own,” said Saint Louis Zoo Primate Curator Heidi Hellmuth. “This decision is really about the long-term success of this critically endangered species, but we also know it’s the start of an exciting new chapter for Nadaya.”

Nadaya’s decision could help her critically endangered species. The zoo said western lowland gorillas are threatened with extinction in the wild.

With Nadaya gone, visitors to the Saint Louis Zoo can still see a group of bachelor gorillas at Jungle of the Apes.