It’s the moment all zoo supporters have been waiting for! Lincoln Park Zoo is excited to announce the two western lowland gorilla male offspring have received names. The first gorilla baby, born to female Rollie on May 12, is named Mondika (mon-dee-kah) and the second baby, born to female Bana on June 12, is named Djeke (jek-ay). The names pay homage to the zoo’s work in the Goualougo Triangle in the Republic of the Congo.
Lead researcher David Morgan, Ph.D., has been stationed in the Goualougo Triangle since 1999, studying the only ecosystem in the world shared by both chimpanzees and western lowland gorillas. The Goualougo Triangle Ape Project (GTAP) was then created and founded by Morgan, of the zoo’s Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes. This year celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project!
Djeke pays tribute to the Djeke Triangle which comprises a majority of the remaining Intact Forest Landscape (IFL) and is the longest-running gorilla research site in Western Equatorial Africa. Given its location along the international border of two National Parks, in addition to Mondika, it is strategically, environmentally, and socially a critical area to the Sangha Trinational World Heritage Site.
Mondika is a unique field site with three habituated groups of apes and is a developing great ape tourism site. In 2015, WCS requested GTAP lead the research, health, and conservation activities at Mondika, which it has been doing since that time.
Rollie’s gorilla infant was named Mondika by Lincoln Park Zoo animal care staff and researchers. Bana’s infant was named Djeke by Lincoln Park Zoo supporter and life trustee John Hart. Hart has been a board member since 1967 and has a personal connection to great apes after spending time assisting with tracking efforts for mountain gorillas in Rwanda.
With multiple habituated groups of gorillas and chimpanzees in both the Goualougo and Djeke Triangles, it presents a unique opportunity to better understand how environmental and human influence, such as tourism and logging, impact apes’ well-being.