World Gorilla Day: Meet our Gorillas!

Posted September 24, 2020 by Ashley Ashcraft

Happy World Gorilla Day! Today is an important day to admire gorillas, inspire humans and to recycle cell phones! There are 4 subspecies of gorillas: Western lowland gorillas, Eastern lowland gorilla, mountain gorilla and Cross River gorilla, all of which are categorized as Critically Endangered.

Western lowland gorillas are the subspecies that we have here at the Cincinnati Zoo.  A 2018 census reports that there are only 360,000 individuals left in the wild.  Each year it is estimated that we are losing 2.7% of the Western lowland gorilla population, due to poaching, disease and habitat loss.  Humans are their biggest predators, but the good news is that there are a lot of great humans out there, like you, to help protect them!

A simple way to do that is by recycling old cell phones and cell phone chargers here at the Cincinnati Zoo.  There is a mineral called Coltan that is only mined in the Congo where the gorillas as well as a lot of other amazing animals live.  This mineral is found in each of our cell phones that we carry around every day.  So, by simply recycling old cell phones and spreading the word, you are helping protect gorillas in the wild!

Get to know the gorillas that call the Cincinnati Zoo home:

Mshindi’s Troop



Mshindi is the silverback to Tulivu and Bandia. Mshindi is 32 years old, birth date: 10/17/1987.  He is a good looking male and our stinkiest male as well!  Males have extra scent glands in their armpits that secrete sweat and various scents.  These scents help communicate to the troop if a male is excited or if a threat is near.  Mshindi loves to strike a pose on habitat and will often climb high on the trees and rocks.  He can also be extremely playful and will start playing as soon as he wakes up in the morning.  The gorillas are given a supplemental biscuit each day as a source of fiber and protein, Mshindi really enjoys soaking his biscuits in water before he eats them.



Bandia is 23 years old, born 09/13/1997.  She shows a lot of interest in Mshindi and is usually the female that is seen closest to him.  They will also play together from time to time which is a way to strengthen their bond.  Bandia is a very smart and headstrong girl.  She enjoys her food, but the thing she cares most about is Mshindi.  She utilizes the entirety of both habitats.  Although, Bandia is a newer resident at Cincinnati she has Cincinnati bloodlines.  Her Great Grandparents are King Tut and Penelope, two of our founder gorillas.



Tulivu is our youngest adult female at 16 years old, born 05/02/2004.  She has a strong bond with Bandia and they will often sit together.  Tulivu loves to drape fabric around her back and will often use fabric for a nesting material.  Gorillas make nests each night to sleep in and will use different substrates like branches and leaves.  Tulivu loves her food and has a sweet tooth just like humans.  Bananas, grapes and other fruits are her favorites.  One of her favorite places to hang out is on the rocks towards the front right side of the outdoor habitat.  This gives her a great vantage point to people watch and welcome her guests.


Ndume’s Troop


Ndume is Chewie and Mara’s silverback.  He is going to be 39 years old in October, born 10/10/1981, our oldest silverback.  He is a very tall male with long arms and legs.  He enjoys training with his keepers for grapes.  He is a fast learner and continues to learn different behaviors like positioning himself long enough for a cardiac ultrasound.  Cardiac ultrasounds are very important in gorillas especially males as they are prone to heart disease.  He is currently getting comfortable with the outdoor habitat, where he has accessed each morning and overnight.  Ndume really enjoys fabrics and making large nests to sleep on.  One of his favorite foods is pineapple.



Chewie just turned 25, born 9/17/1995!  She is one of our more robust females and a very pretty gorilla.  Chewie and Mara are tightly bonded sisters and are often seen near each other.  Chewie has an affinity towards Ndume and will choose to be closer to him from time to time.  Chewie is very head strong and savvy gorilla.  She is very food motivated and enjoys training and manipulating enrichment devices.   Grapes are one of her favorite food items.


Mara, a lot like her sister, is 25, strong-willed and a very smart gorilla.  She was born 8/13/1995.  Mara is our smallest adult female.  Gorillas range in size just like people do.  If you can’t tell her apart from her size, then look for the gray-colored sideburns.  She loves to train with her keepers for health checkups.  She is a pickier eater than most of our gorillas.  She prefers sweeter items like fruit but does not like grapefruit and could do without apple.  She can be seen climbing high up in the habitats or down on the ground relaxing.


Jomo’s Troop


Jomo is a silverback to M’Linzi, Gladys, Mondika and Elle.  He is 29 years old, born 07/18/1991.  He is an extremely great father to the little kids.  You can often find him relaxing or watching the kids to see if they are acting appropriately.  A key role of the silverback is to serve as the protector of the group and Jomo excels at that.  Although he is all business most of the time, he does have a soft side and can be seen playing with the kids on occasion.  Jomo really enjoys training with his keepers, which can be viewable from the indoor habitat from time to time.  Some of Jomo’s favorite foods is fruit and corn.


M’linzi is 37 years old, born 12/07/1982.  She is the only adult female in “Jomo’s Group” and is a surrogate mother to Gladys.  You can find M’linzi often hanging out by herself or sometimes near the kids.  She loves fabric items and you can sometimes find her with fabric draped around her shoulders or head.  M’Linzi would never turn down a meal and one of her favorite food items is kale in which she will “hum” while eating.  Singing or vocalizing like this is a way for gorillas to show contentment with their meal.  M’Linzi has a very pronounced brow ridge, which makes her look “grumpy”.  But she isn’t.  She is a very happy and playful gorilla!


Gladys and Elle

Gladys was born 1/29/2013.  She is a very curious gorilla and extremely intelligent.  She masters any enrichment item or puzzle feeder and challenges her keepers to come up with new and stimulating enrichment.  She is also very playful, and you can find her with the kids or giving Elle a ride on her back.  She is the largest of the three kids and is spunky and full of energy being 7 years old.  One of Gladys’ favorite foods is banana.


Gladys getting a piggyback ride from Mona!

Mondika (Mona) at 6 years old, born 8/04/2014, is our 2nd youngest gorilla.  She can be found playing with Elle and Gladys or sitting near her dad, Jomo.  Jomo and Mona share a close bond and she can often get away with anything in the group as dad will come to defend her.  Mona is also very curious and enjoys interacting with enrichment or giving Elle a ride on her back.  One of her favorite foods is grapes.



Elle, at 5 years old, born 8/25/2015, is the youngest gorilla here at the Cincinnati Zoo.  She is the 50th gorilla baby born here! Elle is full of energy and you can often find her playing with Mondika and Gladys or pestering her dad, Jomo.  Elle is a guest favorite and a lot of fun to observe as she is always playing and interacting with enrichment.  She is one brave, happy gorilla!  She will also be seen from time to time twirling around, which is one way that she plays.  There is never a dull moment when Elle is around!  She enjoys sweet food items and makes loud singing noises when she eats food she likes.