September 24 celebrates World Gorilla Day. And gorillas can have big personalities!
Stephanie Tien, Zookeeper Forest Glade
Welcome to Forest Glade at the North Carolina Zoo! This habitat is home to seven Western Lowland Gorillas, five males, and two females that form one troop. Western Lowland Gorillas are just one of four subspecies of gorillas found only in Africa; however, they are the only gorilla species you will see in human care. Gorillas typically live in social groups referred to as troops, consisting of anywhere from as little as three individuals to as many as fifteen. A sexually mature male leads the group, also referred to as the silverback.The group also consists of various females and their offspring. It is also not uncommon in the wild to see a small group of adolescent males on this main troop's periphery.
Silverback Mosuba pictured above
For the North Carolina Zoo, our troop is led by silverback Mosuba. Mo, as we call him, is 36 years old, which exceeds the average life expectancy of 32 years. Mosuba is a gentle giant that is incredibly food motived and an amazing animal to train, but he is always willing to step in any time there is a fight amongst the group.
Our group consists of two females Jamani and Olympia. Jamani is just 20 years old and is mother to Bomassa. She has a sweet side to her, but she can be quite serious when food is involved. Jamani was born in California and lived her first ten years in San Diego, making her a California girl through and through. Anytime it starts to get a little cold, you will see Jamani sitting under the heaters!
California girl Jamani
Olympia is 23 years old and the mother of Apollo. While the silverback typically leads the group, around here, everyone knows its Olympia that is in charge! Her dominant personality can make her an instigator, and one that the other gorillas do not seem to enjoy being around. Don't let her occasional "calm" demeanor fool you; she is always planning something with her incredible wit.
Olympia and son Apollo
Next up is our blackback, Hadari. Blackback is a term given to a subadult male who isn't quite sexually mature and doesn't have the silver coloration yet or that large crest on their head. At ten years old, Hadari can have both a playful side, but a very serious side when it comes time to feed and train. Hadari is also quite vocal and seems to be barking about something quite often. One of the best things about Hadari is that he is always engaging in enrichment, especially puzzle feeders!
Hadari, a subadult or "blackback" gorilla
Anyone who has visited the gorilla troop has definitely seen our three 8-year-old boys playing! Bomassa, son of Jamani, is definitely the goofiest of the three. He is a gorilla with two left feet, tripping over everything imaginable. But he is always ready to play with Dembe or Apollo. Apollo, son of Olympia, tries to take after his dominant mother, and if his mother isn't instigating something, you can bet Apollo is. Apollo loves to see how much he can get away with, especially when it comes to Mo's temper.
Gorilla boys playing on Forest Glade habitat
Dembe is the newest to the group. He arrived from Colorado in 2017 and has been a great addition to our troop! Dembe is incredibly intelligent and is great at gorilla politics! He is always ready to play with Bomassa but is serious when the time demands it. There is no doubt in our minds that one-day, Dembe will be an amazing silverback and great leader!
Our seven gorillas are all diverse in personalities to say the least, but their differences make it interesting and fun to watch them interacting with each other!
Dembe, pictured below