The first gorillas to be kept in New Zealand are being officially welcomed at Christchurch's Orana Wildlife Park this afternoon.
Brothers Fataki, aged 12, Fuzu, 7, their half-brother Mahali, 6, arrived from Sydney's Taronga Zoo last month and have been in quarantine and settling into their new $6 million home.
The wildlife park was planning a gorilla habitat to be completed in 2013, but the earthquake put the plans on hold.
Park chief executive Lynn Anderson said the decision was made to create a Great Ape Centre which could hold both gorillas and orangutans in two separate areas, though there were no immediate plans to bring orangutans to the facility.
"The team is excited about having the magnificent gorillas at the park," Ms Anderson said.
"Fataki weighs 190kg and is an impressive animal, he is developing a silver-back and will become more majestic with age."
Ms Anderson said the two other gorillas weighed about 90kg and had mischievous personalities.
Gorilla keeper Nichola Creighton said the park was proud to have joined the international zoo based breeding programme for the critically endangered animals.
"The park's initial role in the programme is housing the bachelors and raising awareness on the plight of gorillas."
Gorillas, which are the largest and most powerful of all the primates can live up to 50 years in captivity.
The public will be able to view the animals from tomorrow.