September 17, 2019

Big Changes Coming to Great Apes

Denver Zoo’s Family Gorilla Troop Moves to Florida at the Recommendation of the Species Survival Plan


Western lowland gorillas are a fixture at Denver Zoo. For nearly 50 years, we’ve provided an exceptional home for numerous gorillas and supported the critically endangered species by participating in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP)—an important insurance policy that ensures a healthy, genetically-diverse population of gorillas in human care as wild populations decline in the face of mounting threats.

At the recommendation of the SSP, our family gorilla troop—Jim, 31, Tinga, 14, and Whimsie, 3—recently moved to Jacksonville Zoo to join one of their resident females in the hopes they grow their family, while our resident bachelors—Charlie, 23, and Curtis, 24—will remain at Denver Zoo for the foreseeable future. Having one troop in Great Apes rather than two will allow our animal care team to better train the gorillas to participate in their own medical care.

Western lowland gorilla, while more numerous than other gorilla species, are still a critically endangered. Their primary threats include logging, agriculture and poaching through their native ranges in Nigeria, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Congo. Recently, the hunting of primates, including gorillas, for the growing bush meat trade has further threatened their survival.

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