A Gorilla Bachelor Party

Juvenile gorilla Azizi will be part of a new all-male bachelor group at Regenstein Center for African Apes.

Juvenile gorilla Azizi will be part of a new all-male bachelor group at Regenstein Center for African Apes.

Exciting Changes Ahead for Lincoln Park Zoo's Gorillas

From the legendary Bushman to current silverback Kwan, Lincoln Park Zoo has long led the way in caring for western lowland gorillas. Over the decades the zoo has hosted 49 births of this endangered species. We’ve built two state-of-the-art buildings designed to meet their needs. Zoo scientists have pioneered research programs to understand how these amazing animals think and better conserve them in the wild.

This summer, Lincoln Park Zoo will add another milestone to this legacy of care by hosting our first all-male gorilla bachelor group. By introducing two juveniles born at the zoo—Azizi (8) and Amare (6)—with two new arrivals—Mosi (6) and Umande (6)—we’ll create a dynamic social group, one that will enable a range of natural behaviors while continuing to advance the species’ conservation and care.

“This new group should be a lively bunch,” says Curator of Primates Maureen Leahy. “Like human teens, adolescent gorillas have plenty of energy to burn. We’ll be providing lots of extra enrichment to channel that energy, so guests should see a range of active behaviors.”

While this may be Lincoln Park Zoo’s first gorilla bachelor group, the social structure is common in zoos and in the wild. These all-male ensembles typically bring together three–four males between the ages of 6–10. This mirrors the age when young males leave their birth groups in the wild—each pushed away as the dominant silverback begins to see him as a rival.

In zoos, bachelor groups provide a natural way to accommodate males. Births recommended by the Gorilla Species Survival Plan® (SSP), a shared conservation effort by zoos throughout the Association of Zoo and Aquariums, produce equal numbers of male and female offspring. But each gorilla breeding group can only be led by one dominant male silverback.

Placing growing males in bachelor groups gives these complex animals the social interaction they need. Some gorilla males may spend their whole lives in bachelor groups; others may be introduced to females as they mature. Future decisions will all take place through the guidance of the Gorilla SSP.

As Lincoln Park Zoo prepares for the new bachelor group, we’ll also be saying goodbye to some current residents of Regenstein Center for African Apes in coming months. Tabibu, who was born at the zoo in 1992, will be moving to Columbus Zoo. Azizi’s mother, Makari, who was born here in 1987, will be moving to Kansas City Zoo. Azizi’s father, silverback JoJo, who was born here in 1980, will be moving across town to Brookfield Zoo, where he’ll be introduced to new potential mates.

All these moves are part of the Gorilla SSP’s master plan to keep gorilla populations healthy in zoos throughout North America. We’ll be holding a farewell event for all the gorillas on April 10.We encourage you to come by and wish them well.

In the meantime, though, get ready for a boost of testosterone this summer. The new bachelor group should provide a new great ape experience for visitors and staff alike.

“We’re excited to have a traditional, silverback-dominated group and a new all-male group together in the same building,” says Steve Ross, Ph.D., assistant director of the Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes. “It will be an excellent learning opportunity for researchers—and guests too.”

 

by James Seidler • Published March 22, 2012


Learn More

Welcome the gorilla bachelor group with a gift from the Wish List!

Wish List: New Gorillas in Our Midst
Regenstein Center for African Apes will welcome two new gorillas this summer—part of the zoo's exciting first bachelor troop. These young males need a bachelor pad fit for kings. Welcome them with a gift from the Wish List!

Gorillas Tabibu and Azizi dig into the ice cake.

Celebrating Change
Dozens of guests and 434 pounds of “cake” made for a silverback-sized farewell party as guests said goodbye to gorillas JoJo, Tabibu and Makari at Regenstein Center for African Apes.

 

JoJo does a dental display for a Brookfield Zoo keeper.

Getting Ready to Say Goodbye
Play dates and favorite treats--President and CEO Kevin Bell shares how keepers are preparing for upcoming gorilla changes

 

Gorillas Azizi, Susie and JoJo at Lincoln Park Zoo's Regenstein Center for African Apes

Welcoming a New Gorilla Group
Lincoln Park Zoo President and CEO Kevin Bell shares the exciting news about the zoo's new all-male gorilla bachelor group, which will arrive at Regenstein Center for African Apes in summer 2012.

 

Juvenile gorilla Azizi

Meet the Bachelors
Amare, Azizi, Mosi and Umande—meet the gorillas who will form Lincoln Park Zoo's first bachelor group!

 

Silverback JoJo will be moving to Brookfield Zoo

Gorilla Goodbyes…and Hellos
Leave a message for JoJo, Tabibu and Makari as they to move to new homes—or leave a welcome note for Mosi and Umande!