The future is in question for Ndume, the 37-year-old male western lowland gorilla who lives at a preserve operated by The Gorilla Foundation off Skyline Boulevard in Woodside.
Ndume kept company for 27 years with his sign-language-adept female partner Koko, who died in June at the preserve at the age of 46. With Ndume now alone, officials at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, where he was born, want him back.
The zoo cites the value to Ndume of cohabiting with his relatives, and notes a loan agreement that, according to a zoo statement, requires the foundation to transfer custody of Ndume to "an institution recommended by" the Gorilla Species Survival Plan and the Cincinnati Zoo.
The Gorilla Foundation is resisting, saying in a statement that if Ndume is transferred to Cincinnati, he in all likelihood will be isolated from other gorillas. The foundation is "actively seeking additional gorilla companions for Ndume" while it continues to care for him "with the companionship of his human caregivers, who have been with him for decades," the statement says.
Both organizations say they are prepared to take the matter to court.