"This has been yet another exciting day at Utah's Hogle Zoo," said Erin Jones, a Senior Keeper.
True love for Gorillas Tino and Jabali brought out a crowd Friday. Among the guests, Jill Thackerary, "I just knew this was a historic event."
-- Historic because Tino, at age 39 (that's nearly 80 in human years) is the unlikely beau in this great ape version of "Romeo and Juliet."
Jones calls it "amazing" that he would mate now for the first time. And if he were to have offspring with Jabali, that would border on divine intervention. Tino has long been considered sterile.
"If he were to breed," observed Jones, "And all of a sudden have viable sperm and Jabali were to get pregnant, that would be a huge, huge thing for the gorilla population." She said Tino was born in the wild and would add badly needed "fresh genes" to the gene pool of captive gorillas.
But alas, the chance of that happening are long. Hail Mary long.
The folks at the zoo will probably have to be content just knowing that Tino, even in his advanced years, has finally found love.
"We really did not expect this at all," Jones said.