Protecting Gorillas in the Congo

Project Saving Species funds support the Mbeli Bai Study located in the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in the Republic of Congo. It is the longest-running field study of western lowland gorillas in the wild. Observations have provided unique insights into the gorilla’s social organization and dynamics.

Associated with the study, the Club Ebobo program educates local schoolchildren about wildlife and conservation. The Cincinnati Zoo Conservation Impact team is actively working with the team in the Congo on community engagement research to identify ways to support people’s needs and keep both people and apes healthy. In 2022, the Zoo received a grant from the Margot Marsh Biodiversity Foundation to conduct this research and design new videos to engage communities throughout the Congo.

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A collaborative project proposal to do community survey work & educational campaigns in central Africa has been fully funded by the Margot Marsh Biodiversity Foundation!  The research will be primarily conducted in the forests of the Djeke and Goualougo Triangles, as well as community reserves and local village hunting zones found in the periphery of the Noudable-Ndoki National Park in the Republic of Congo, Africa.

There are several threads of research that will be supported by this funding:

  • wildlife disease (infectious and zoonotic) surveillance and biodiversity monitoring
  • develop and conduct “knowledge, attitudes, and practices” surveys to inform educational messaging priorities
  • update and conduct community outreach programs and develop educational videos about human health, conservation of apes & landscapes, and community wellbeing

Collaborative partners include – David Morgan (Lincoln Park Zoo), Crickette Sanz (Washington University), Lily Maynard (CZBG), Richard Malonga (Wildlife Conservation Society), Ben Evans (WCS), Amy Roll (WCS), Yves Baucoly (WCS), Dr. Alain Ondzie (WCS), Max Mviri (Nouabale-Ndoki NP), Fabian Leendertz (Helmholtz Institute for One Health), and Livia Patrono (HIOH).

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Gorillas in the Congo

Cincinnati Enquirer journalist Meg Vogel traveled to the Congo with Cincinnati Zoo director Thane Maynard to see gorilla field conservation in action. Check out the amazing images and descriptions of what they encountered where gorillas live.

Images | Story

Goualougo Triangle Ape Project

The Goualougo Triangle Ape Project is one of the most remote places researchers travel to study animals on the planet. Here they have the special opportunity to study novice gorillas and chimpanzees that have had very little influence and effect from human populations. Once again critical to gaining a deeper knowledge of gorilla natural history and demographics as conservationist look to preserve habitat for their future. CZBG coordinates our annual support and goals with Dr. Dave Morgan who runs Goualougo and Mondika.

Recycle a Cell Phone, Save a Gorilla

Gorilla with baby

Gorillas on the Line Campaign

Join the Cincinnati Zoo in answering the call and recycling old electronics to save gorillas!

Recycling electronics not only keep harmful materials out of landfills—it can also raise funds to directly support gorilla conservation in the wild. The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden partners with ECO-CELL to recycle old cell phones, smart phones, iPods, tablets, chargers, handheld gaming devices, and other electronics. The money raised from recycling these items goes directly to our partners in the Republic of Congo to support the Mbeli Bai Study.

Want to get involved? Answer the call and join this year’s Gorillas on the Line campaign!

From February 1st – April 30th, you and your group can join the Cincinnati Zoo and other organizations across the country by recycling old electronic devices. The group(s) who recycle the most gadgets at the end of the campaign win a special prize! Simply register your group online to get started! You can also recycle your old devices at our collection box at Gorilla World throughout the year.

Gorillas in Zoos

western lowland gorillaZoo gorillas play a key role as ambassadors for their wild counterparts. Through their strong appeal with guests, we are able to share information and important conservation messages combined with action steps. Zoos do not take gorillas from the wild and have not for decades. All gorillas throughout North America are managed cooperatively through the Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP). Every two years, the SSP develops a comprehensive master plan by combining data on genetics, individual gorilla personality, institutional input, and many other demographics to ensure we are able to properly managing this flagship species for many years into the future.

The Cincinnati Zoo has a long and storied history with western lowland gorillas dating as far back as the 1930s when the Zoo received its first gorilla named Susie. Highlights include the first two gorillas born at the Zoo, Sam and Samantha, just eight days apart in 1970, a record-setting year with six gorilla births in 1995, including Timu, the world’s first gorilla conceived through in vitro fertilization, and of course, the unprecedented story of baby Gladys to whom keepers played surrogate until she was transferred to the care of an experienced mother gorilla in 2013.


Gorilla Health Project

Strong awareness of gorilla cardiac issues began in November 2006, when a workshop of physicians, veterinarians, pathologists and animal keepers from across the country came together to discuss the cardiac health issues apparent with captive gorillas. To date, heart disease is the #1 cause of mortality in zoo gorillas. As a result of the meeting, the Gorilla Health Project was created, receiving funding and donations to help with preventative research in gorilla cardiac care. The Zoo is proud to be among the industry leaders taking part in this amazing project. In collaboration with Christ Hospital, cardiac ultrasounds (echocardiograms) have been conducted on several of the Zoo’s gorillas to add data to the growing database that the Gorilla Health Project team maintains.