Getting Ready to Say Goodbye

As you know, big changes are in store for Lincoln Park Zoo’s gorillas. We’re excited to welcome a new bachelor group this summer. We’ll also be bidding farewell to some familiar faces next week.

Silverback gorilla JoJo does a voluntarily dental display for Brookfield Zoo Keeper Danielle Fogarty and Lincoln Park Zoo Lead Keeper Dominic Calderisi.

Silverback gorilla JoJo does a voluntarily dental display for Brookfield Zoo Keeper Danielle Fogarty and Lincoln Park Zoo Lead Keeper Dominic Calderisi.

As the zoo welcome the changes, it’s important to note that none of these moves are made lightly. All have been recommended by the Gorilla Species Survival Plan®, which is responsible for ensuring the long-term health of this endangered species. Each transfer is accompanied by careful planning as we prepare these amazing animals for new caregivers and new homes.

In the case of JoJo, for instance, zookeepers from Brookfield Zoo have been traveling to Lincoln Park Zoo since March to acclimate the silverback to his new caregivers. Working side-by-side with our keepers, they’ve walked JoJo through his care regimen, including behaviors like opening his mouth for a dental checkup. (JoJo’s favorite rewards were reserved for the Brookfield keepers, which hasn’t hurt the getting-to-know-you process.) Similarly, staff from Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and Kansas City Zoo have traveled to Chicago to get to know Tabibu and Makari and begin building a positive relationship with these animals.

Juvenile gorillas Azizi and Amare have also been prepped for life together in a bachelor group, with animal care staff introducing them for “play dates” behind the scenes. In a neutral space, away from parents, both wore themselves out with a good 45 minutes of play…a preview of what guests will see this summer.

With these moves in mind, I’d like to invite you to Regenstein Center for African Apes next Tuesday, April 10, to say farewell to Tabibu, Makari and JoJo. The goodbye party, which starts at 10 a.m., will feature an ice cake and edible banner as well as a card for well wishes. Learn more online—or leave a farewell message for the gorillas on our website.

I hope to see you there. As always, I’ll keep you posted.

Kevin Bell


JoJo, Tabiibu and Makari

Kevin- thanks for this explanation - it makes me (and all of us who care so much) feel better about saying goodbye to our gorilla pals. I would have expected nothing less of LPZoo's animal care staff, who are THE BEST, but I still like reading about the transition plans. Love to all our Gorilla Folks!

Zoo keepers are the same

Zoo keepers are the same everywhere. It doesn't matter what zoo, because they are all devoted and caring people who love the animals they work with. JoJo, Tabibu and Makari will be just as loved and spoiled at Brookfield, Columbus and Kansas City as they were here at Lincoln Park Zoo. What we see now are dedicated keepers working together to make this move an easy one for our beloved gorilla group.

I also would like to say that

I also would like to say that if anyone is wondering how a gorilla adjusts to a transfer from one zoo to another, all they have to do is go to RCAA and take a look at Bana. She arrived at Lincoln Park Zoo last year from Brookfield Zoo (where is was born in March of 1995). Bana is part of Kwan's troop and she is doing great.

Gorilla Transfer

I knew the move was coming but it was soooo sad to hear, on the news today, that JoJo was moving to Brookfield Zoo. It sure did bring tears to my eyes as he has been such a large presence for all visitors and I have to admit, JoJo is one of my favorites!

I wonder how long it'll take for him to be really comfortable in a new situation with a new family. It seems such a major adjustment for him and for any animal being moved away from their home. Hopefully, Kevin Bell will continue to keep us updated on how JoJo, Markari and Tabibu are adjusting to their new homes. They will ALL be missed so very much!

Gorilla transfer

This isn't the first time we've had to say goodbye to some of our well-loved gorillas. When RCAA was being built, Debbie, Frank, and others were transferred to Louisville. They evidently did very well there, and those who returned to LPZ adjusted beautifully to their new environment. Gorillas are apparently more flexible than many people.

I will miss all three of the gorillas, but Tabibu is a special favorite of mine. I'll always remember her pleading expression and her beautiful brown eyes following me when I took a cup of yogurt out of my pocket as I was leaving the Fisher Great Ape House. I know she'll be happy in well taken care of and happy in her new home.

And, JoJo will be close enough for a visit.

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