Gorilla Group Changes Press Materials

Lincoln Park Zoo Announces Gorilla Group Changes

Chicago (March 22, 2012) - A series of exciting changes are right around the corner at Lincoln Park Zoo’s Regenstein Center for African Apes, with preparations underway to welcome new additions to the zoo’s gorilla family and bid farewell to some old ape friends.

Two young male gorillas are set to join resident blackbacks Amare and Azizi to form a bachelor troop on recommendation of the Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP), a cooperative breeding and management strategy managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). These unique social groupings occur in the wild and are important for optimal animal welfare.

“Lincoln Park Zoo has always been a national leader in gorilla care and management and is thrilled to house the country’s newest bachelor troop,” said Steve Ross, PhD, assistant director of the zoo’s Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes. “This will also be an excellent learning opportunity for researchers and guests at the zoo who can compare the traditional, silverback-dominated structure with the rarer all-male group right in the same building.”

Also on recommendation from the SSP, three of Lincoln Park Zoo’s gorillas will be moving to other accredited institutions.

Females Tabibu and Makari will be going to Columbus Zoo and Kansas City Zoo, respectively. 31-year-old silverback JoJo is heading to Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo where he will hopefully breed with the females living across town. His last day on exhibit at Lincoln Park Zoo will be April 10.

“JoJo will be missed by staff and friends of Lincoln Park Zoo, but this is really a win-win situation for everyone involved,” said Curator of Primates Maureen Leahy. “Animal care staff at both zoos will be nearby to make the transition as easy as possible, and the proximity of Brookfield Zoo means JoJo’s human friends can visit him any time.”

These recommended changes to JoJo’s group are occurring at exactly the right time in the animals’ lives and accurately reflect social dynamics of wild gorillas. Female gorillas are known to move troops more than once; while male gorillas naturally leave the groups they were born into when they reach sexual maturity.

Western lowland gorillas are critically endangered in their native central Africa due to habitat loss and poaching. The Species Survival Program convenes experts in animal care and conservation who work toward maintaining genetically diverse, self-sustaining populations of more than 500 species of animals, including Western lowland gorillas. Program participants cooperate on conservation and public education initiatives, research and support field conservation efforts to ensure species survival.  

Lincoln Park Zoo’s great apes program is one of the best in the world. The state-of-the-art Regenstein Center for African Apes is internationally-recognized for its enriching exhibit design, while scientists at the zoo’s Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes lead their field with research in behavioral studies and disease monitoring.




Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo, a historic landmark founded in 1868, is dedicated to connecting people with nature by providing a free, family-oriented wildlife experience. A leader in conservation science both globally and locally, the zoo exemplifies the highest quality animal care and educational outreach. The not-for-profit zoo, managed by The Lincoln Park Zoological Society, is a member-supported organization and one of the nation’s only free, privately managed zoos. For more information, call 312 -742-2000 or visit www.lpzoo.org.


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