Meet the Gorillas

The Louisville Zoo’s Gorilla Forest is home to multiple family groups of gorillas.

The Bachelor Group

JELANI

jelani
courtesy of Michael Maes

Our International superstar and youtube sensation due to his fascination with cellphones — Jelani was born at Lincoln Park Zoo in 1997 and arrived at Louisville Zoo in 2002. Jelani currently resides with three other silverbacks: Bengati, Kicho and Cecil. He is a laid-back individual and sometimes likes to look at the cellphone photos and videos of guests. He enjoys the company of Bengati and they sometimes play or rest together.

BENGATI

Bengati

Bengati was born at Lincoln Park Zoo in 1998 and arrived at Louisville Zoo in 2002. Bengati currently resides with three other silverbacks: Jelani, Kicho and Cecil. He shares his father’s looks, but some physical traits of his great-grandmother Helen can be seen in him as well.

CECIL

Cecil was born at Cincinnati Zoo in 1998 and arrived at Louisville Zoo in 2004. He and Kicho share several relatives including the same father. Cecil is the youngest member of the all-male group of four silverbacks. He is very intelligent and savvy and is the most dominant among the silverbacks.

KICHO

Kicho was born at Cincinnati Zoo in 1997 and arrived at Louisville Zoo in 2004. He and Cecil share several relatives including the same father. Kicho is the stockiest of the four silverbacks in the bachelor group, and can be easily recognized by his protruding upper left canine tooth and his wall-eyes. He often enjoys splashing around in one of the outdoor pools, and he also can sometimes be found climbing the exhibit’s trees.

The Older Ladies Group

DEMBA

demba
courtesy of Max Block

Demba was born at Dallas Zoo in 1970. She moved to Philadelphia Zoo in 1999 and then to Louisville Zoo in 2006. She commonly carries blankets made of cut material given to her by care staff and often “talks” to her keepers by directing contentment vocalizations toward them. She currently lives with Helen.

HELEN

helen
courtesy of Todd Rosenburg Photography

Helen was born in the wild in 1958, then lived at Lincoln Park Zoo until her arrival at Louisville Zoo in 2002. Helen’s hair has grayed, and she has a highly wrinkled face and grizzled sideburns. She prefers her alone time but tolerates social living with Demba.

Kindi’s Family Group

KINDI

gorillas_kindi
Photo courtesy of Jacob Zimmer, zymage.com

Kindi was born via emergency cesarean section to 27 year-old gorilla Mia Moja on March 14, 2016. Sadly, Mia Moja passed away the next day. Since that time, Kindi has grown from an orphaned infant gorilla hand raised by our Gorilla Forest care team into a thriving playful gorilla with a devoted surrogate gorilla mother. Kindi is currently bonding with surrogate mom Kweli before other family members are introduced. You can see some of her adventures and check her viewing times at Kindi’s Journey. Photo courtesy of Jacob Zimmer, zymage.com

KWELI

kweli

Kweli was born at Cincinnati Zoo in 1983 and arrived in Louisville in April of 2008. She is mother to Kicho (Louisville Zoo) and also has offspring at Pittsburgh Zoo and Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo. She was an excellent mother as well as a high-ranking and well-socialized female at Cincinnati. Now she is the surrogate mohter of Kindi. You can see them together on exhibit. For viewing schedule of Kindi and Kweli, click here.

PAKI

Paki

Paki was born at Bronx Zoo in 1989. She arrived at Louisville Zoo in 2004. Paki enjoys interaction with both visitors at the glass and care staff. She is distinguishable from the other gorillas because she is often seen sucking her finger and standing upright. Paki’s family group is Casey and Bandia. This family is newly formed, so they may be off exhibit intermittently. The plan is that eventually, Kindi and Kweli with join this family group.

Casey

Silverback Casey was born in 1982 and came to the Louisville Zoo from the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans in 2017.He is described as “laid back” and he enjoys eating his fruit peeled. Casey is the patriach in a family group like includes Paki and Bandia. This family is newly formed, so they may be off exhibit intermittently. The plan is that eventually, Kindi and Kweli will join this family group.

Bandia

Bandia was born in 1997 and came to the Louisville Zoo from the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans in 2017. She is described as “mild-mannered” and liked to spend time with Casey, who also came from the Audubon Zoo. Her current family group includes Casey and Paki. This family is newly formed, so they may be off exhibit intermittently. The plan is that eventually, Kindi and Kweli will join this family group.

Remembering MIA MOJA

Mia

1989-2016: Mia Moja was born at Zoo Atlanta in 1989 and arrived at Louisville Zoo in 2004. She was the smallest member of her group which included Mshindi, Kweli and Paki and the mother of Kindi. Click for more information.

Recently Moved MSHINDI

mshindi

At the recommendation of the western lowland gorilla Species Survival Plan, Mshindi was moved to the Cincinnati Zoo in mid-2017. Mshindi was born at St Louis Zoo in 1987 and arrived in Louisville in 2005. At 350 lbs, Mshindi is easily recognizable and was the largest gorilla in his group. Mshindi usually kept watch over things with an air of confidence, but was sometimes seen charging around, reminding everyone who the boss was.

Please note, to promote activity levels similar to those of gorillas in the wild, all gorillas will be encouraged to rotate through the various habitat areas at different times each day. Therefore it is impossible to predict in advance which gorillas will be on display at a specific time.

These photos are copyrighted and can not be used without permission of the photographer.

Learn more about Western Lowland Gorillas

Support gorilla conservation and E-cycle at the Zoo

Read about our wildlife partner Pan African Sanctuary  Alliance