8 Fun Facts about Mosuba the Silverback Gorilla

Written by Hannah Tulloch, Digital Media Coordinator, North Carolina Zoo

One of our male gorillas, Mosuba, "Mo," is quite remarkable. As the silverback of the gorilla troop at the North Carolina Zoo, he oversees our all-male bachelor troop and keeps everyone in line. Mo is known for being a very accepting surrogate father to young gorillas, a rare trait for a silverback. 

Mosuba has always been exceptional since the very day he was born. Here is a deeper dive into Mo's life and what makes him unique.

1.     Mosuba is a twin 

Mosuba, "Mo," and his twin brother, Macombo, "Mac," were born on October 26, 1983, at the Columbus Zoo, to their mother, Bridgette, and father, Oscar. Mo and Mac were the first set of western lowland gorilla twins born in the Western Hemisphere. Twin gorillas are extremely rare!    

2.    Mosuba's name came from his caretakers 

The name, Mosuba, was given to him to honor the three volunteers who had taken great care of the twins during their first months – Molly, Sue, and Barb. Mosuba is also known by his nickname, Mo. 


Rosie the late Gorilla Matriarch

3.    Timu & Rosie 

Mosuba was the first male gorilla to have a daughter via artificial insemination successfully. His daughter is named Timu and was born to her mother, Rosie, at the Cincinnati Zoo in 1995. Rosie and Timu were moved to the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha together, where they joined Mosuba. (Rosie pictured here)

Gorilla Hadari

4.    Hadari 

Hadari, who currently lives with Mosuba at the North Carolina Zoo, is Mosuba's grandson! Hadari was born to Timu in Omaha in 2009. Hadari, Rosie, and Mosuba came as a trio to the North Carolina Zoo in 2015. Hadari was able to enjoy time with his grandmother, Rosie, until her passing in 2018. (Hadari pictured here)

5.   Apollo and Bomassa's Surrogate Father 

Mosuba was brought to the North Carolina Zoo to be a surrogate father to two young gorillas, Apollo and Bomassa. Mo and Mac had both previously been surrogates at Omaha. Mo took to the boys immediately, precisely what everyone predicted would happen! Male gorillas accepting babies that are not theirs is extremely rare. 


6.   Dembe 

Dembe was born at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado. Unfortunately for Dembe, his father passed away, and he was not accepted by the new silverback they introduced. Mosuba's surrogate skills were well known among zoos, so it was recommended for Dembe to be moved to the North Carolina Zoo to have a chance to bond with a silverback. Mosuba accepted Dembe right from the beginning! (Mosuba and Dembe pictured below)


7.   Best at participating in health care 

According to his keepers, Mosuba is a gentle giant. He is excellent at participating in his own health care; his voluntary behaviors include:


Mosuba the silverback gorilla
  • Voluntary blood pressure checks – presents his arm (sleeve) and finger (neo-natal cuff) 
  • Voluntary EKGs – he places his fingers on a Kardiamobile device 
  • Voluntary cardiac ultrasounds – he presents his chest to the mesh or lays on his side on a bench specifically made for this procedure. 
  • Voluntary blood draws – he is only one out of 10 gorillas in the SSP of over 350 that will do this. 

Mosuba's participation in his health care is meaningful because cardiovascular disease is common in primates and is the leading cause of death of gorillas under human care. Mo's care team can keep a close watch on his health and learn from him since he is willing to participate. 

8.   Favorite things 

Mo gets fruit for his training sessions; he loves pineapple, oranges, kiwi, and grapes. He also loves a good nap (who doesn't)! 


Words from Keepers: What's one thing you wish people knew about gorillas? 

Gorillas are very subtle and quiet; they are NOT King Kong. They like the quiet! They also have around 20 vocalizations, and they sometimes hum when they eat because they are so happy to eat snacks.