Lincoln Park Zoo is excited to announce that the two western lowland gorilla male offspring have received names! The first gorilla baby, born to female Rollie (age 22) on May 12, is named Mondika (mon-dee-kah) and the second baby, born to female Bana (age 24) 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 Congo. The gorilla infants are the latest to join silverback Kwan’s family troop at Regenstein Center for African Apes.
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.
“I am absolutely thrilled the gorilla infants have received such meaningful names and can connect people to critical conservation work,” said Morgan. “The names pay homage to the 20th anniversary of the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project and the zoo’s commitment to applied conservation research aimed at safeguarding wild ape populations.”
Previously, the Goualougo and Djeke Triangles were pristine and never exploited for timber, despite no official protected status. However, in 2013, with the collaboration of local stakeholders including the government of the Republic of the Congo, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Congolaise Industrielle des Boi (CIB), and GTAP, the Goualougo Triangle was annexed into the Nouabale-Ndoki National Park by presidential decree. The Djeke Triangle was granted elevated protected status as a conservation set aside in 2004.
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 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. Identifying and mitigating identified risks to the great ape populations have been the core focus of GTAP and WCS conservation activities.
In addition to monitoring the great ape populations, zoo scientists are conducting long-term research on the impacts of logging across the ecosystem. This week, a study in Frontiers in Forests and Global Change highlighted findings from GTAP. The study shows logging road construction had accelerated over the last two decades and has led to dramatic decline of IFLs and increased risk of aimed at elephants.
A 2017 study in Biological Conservation also shared insights into logging effects on ape populations before, during, and after timber extraction. Chimpanzees were slower to return to exploited forests while gorillas were found to return to logged areas, perhaps making use of the natural regrowth of terrestrial ground vegetation. Crucial to the protection of the returning ape groups are ecoguards who protect the newly-accessible forest due to human disturbance.
For more information about Lincoln Park Zoo, the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project, or great apes, visit lpzoo.org.
About Lincoln Park Zoo
Lincoln Park Zoo inspires communities to create environments where wildlife will thrive in our urbanizing world. The zoo is a leader in local and global conservation, animal care and welfare, learning, and science. A historic Chicago landmark founded in 1868, Lincoln Park Zoo is a privately managed, member-supported nonprofit organization and is free and open 365 days a year. Visit us at lpzoo.org.
Lincoln Park Zoo Gorilla Infants Receive Names; Honor Conservation Efforts (Julia Fuller / Lincoln Park Zoo (770 KB, MP4))
Mondika (Lincoln Park Zoo )
Djeke (Lincoln Park Zoo)