July 1, 2020
Denver Zoo Welcomes a New Trio of Critically Endangered Western Lowland Gorillas
Critically endangered western lowland gorillas have been a fixture and guest favorite at Denver Zoo for many years, and we’ve supported the species by caring for and breeding numerous families, groups and individuals. We’re now excited to welcome a new group of gorillas, Mbeli, 18, Kali, 14, and Gunther, 13, who arrived this week from Zoo Atlanta and are making their public debut in the Great Apes habitat in Primate Panorama. In preparation for their arrival, our former family Troop of Jim, Tinga and Whimsie, and brothers Charlie and Curtis, moved within the past year to Jacksonville Zoo and Kansas City Zoo, respectively.
“These gorillas are old enough to leave their natal group but not necessarily have their own troop, which can be a challenging situation for many AZA-accredited facilities to manage. This is a natural event for this species to have males disperse and form all male troops until they find their own family group,” said Brian Aucone, Senior Vice President for Animal Care. “Our Great Apes habitat combined with our animal care teams experience and expertise will allow us to support the species by providing a comfortable home for these bachelors.”
Western lowland gorillas are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Their primary threats include logging, agriculture and poaching through their native ranges in Nigeria, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Congo. Mbeli, Kali and Gunther were relocated to Denver Zoo at the recommendation of the Association of Zoo and Aquariums Gorilla Species Survival Plan, which ensures a healthy, genetically diverse population of gorillas in human care, is an increasingly important insurance policy for the species as wild populations decline in the face of mounting threats.
Learn more about our new gorilla bachelor trio below:
Mbeli, Kali and Gunther have lived together as a bachelor group since 2012. Kali and Gunther are half-brothers, while Mbeli’s father, Ozzie, is the world’s oldest living male gorilla at 58 years old. Mbeli’s keepers say he’s quite vocal when he’s ready to eat, and can be heard making a grumbling sound while he chows down.
Kali’s birth in 2005 made international news because he is a twin, which is rare in gorillas. His twin sister Kazi now lives at the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, South Carolina.
Gunther, the youngest of the bachelor group shares a father with Kali, and is known as the “goofy” one of the three.
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