Gorillas Make Debut in Cincinnati Zoo’s New Indoor Habitat

Posted December 5, 2017

Gorilla World opens to the public tomorrow, December 6

CINCINNATI (December 5, 2017) – The much-anticipated indoor habitat for Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s gorillas will open to the public tomorrow, December 6. Donors and sponsors, including The Spaulding Foundation, Harry and Linda Fath, Farmer Family Foundation, and Gorilla Glue, officially cut the ribbon and previewed the facility earlier today.

“We launched a fundraising campaign to expand Gorilla World in 2015 and are thrilled to finally be able to see gorillas in the new space,” said Thane Maynard, Cincinnati Zoo Director. “Gorilla fans will now have the opportunity to visit and get up close with their favorite animal year-round!”

The floor-to-ceiling viewing glass will help the Zoo continue to inspire gorilla conservation by getting visitors #CloseEnoughToCare as they watch and engage with the Zoo’s eleven gorillas, Jomo, Samantha, M’linzi, Mara, Chewie, Anju, Asha, Gladys, Mona, Elle and Mshindi.

“Every inch of the habitat has been designed with the gorillas’ needs in mind. Their strength and intelligence was also factored in, so the entire structure is gorilla proof,” said Maynard. “The primate staff, architects and our facilities department collaborated throughout the entire design and construction process.  As a result, the gorillas have an amazing, naturalistic space with endless opportunities for exploration.”

Phase one of the Gorilla World expansion was completed in June and included increased usable land space on one side of the resurfaced outdoor habitat, a more energy-efficient stream and waterfall, random rolling hills, new landscaping, and an improved space for colobus monkeys. The less visible, but equally important, component of this part of the expansion included modernized living areas for the gorillas and a new behind-the-scenes configuration that provides them with spatial variety and easy options to move past one another.

The gorillas are still learning the ins and outs of their new dynamic habitat and complex, behind-the-scenes bedroom spaces. They may or may not be visible at all times.  Time in the indoor habitat will increase as the groups become accustomed to all the new sights, sounds and faces that they will encounter.

The Cincinnati Zoo has been caring for gorillas since 1931 and has made significant contributions to gorilla populations in Zoos across the country.  Fifty gorillas have been born in Cincinnati since 1970, when the first two gorillas, Sam and Samantha, were born a week apart. Samantha still resides in our family group and visitors can look forward to seeing her, along with the fiftieth gorilla, two-year-old Elle (name chosen because L is the Roman numeral for 50), in the new indoor habitat.

There are about 765 gorillas in zoos worldwide including approximately 360 in the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Program (SSP) for this species. Western lowland gorillas are critically-endangered in the wild, with less than 175,000 individuals. Due primarily to habitat destruction caused by logging, mineral mining and agricultural expansion, wild gorilla numbers continue to shrink.  The bushmeat trade – the killing of wild animals to be used as human food – is also a major threat to the western lowland gorilla population throughout the Central African rainforests.  Over 1,000 gorillas are illegally poached for the bushmeat trade each year. The Cincinnati Zoo supports wild gorilla conservation efforts like the Nouabalé-Ndoki Project in the Republic of Congo.  This project includes the Mbeli Bai Study, the longest running research being done with wild western lowland gorillas.  Through research, local education programs, publications and documentaries, the Mbeli Bai Study and other gorilla related efforts there are raising international awareness for gorillas and their struggle for survival. For more information, visit www.cincinnatizoo.org.