News Release
Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351,

June 1, 2018


Brookfield Zoo Welcomes Newborn Gorilla to the Family

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    Brookfield, Ill. – The Chicago Zoological Society, which operates Brookfield Zoo, is happy to announce the birth of a western lowland gorilla to 23-year-old Koola on Friday, June 1. Koola has grown up in a strong, stable family group at Brookfield Zoo, where she has gained the social experience and confidence she needs to be a good mother.

Koola and her newborn can be visited in the zoo’s Tropic World: Africa habitat along with Koola’s two other children Kamba, 13, and Nora, 4; Zachary (Kamba’s son), 2; Binti Jua (Koola’s mother), 30; and JoJo (the infant’s father), 38. The newborn is a wonderful addition to the four-generation family of western lowland gorillas currently in the group at Brookfield Zoo.

The pairing of the adult female gorillas at Brookfield Zoo, including Koola, with JoJo, who arrived in 2012 from Lincoln Park Zoo, is based on a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Western Lowland Gorilla Species Survival Plan. A Species Survival Plan is a cooperative population management and conservation program for select species in accredited North American zoos and aquariums. Each plan manages the breeding of a species to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable. There are currently almost 350 western lowland gorillas living in accredited North American zoos.

JoJo is one of the most genetically valuable males in the Western Lowland Gorilla SSP population and his calm temperament has been an especially good match for the adult females at Brookfield Zoo. He was reportedly very playful with his offspring at Lincoln Park Zoo and he has shown the same interactions with his offspring at Brookfield Zoo.

“The Society is beyond thrilled to welcome the newborn into the Brookfield Zoo family,” Amy Roberts, Senior Curator of Mammals, said. “JoJo’s role in the birth highlights the collaboration of organizations within the zoo community and the shared dedication to care for and emphasize the importance of this critically endangered species.”

A newborn gorilla weighs between 4 and 5 pounds at birth. In just the first few months, the newborn will have a strong grip and will cling to Koola’s abdomen. At around three months old, zoogoers will be able to watch the infant ride on Koola’s back, and about a month later the infant will be able to explore on their own but will still stay within arm’s reach of Koola. Although the infant will start to sample small pieces of food at about four months old, nursing will continue until about four years old.

Gorillas live in social groups comprised of one adult male, several adult females, juveniles and infants. As they reach sexual maturity, both males and females typically leave the group in which they were born. They either establish a new group or join an existing one.

Western lowland gorillas are critically endangered primarily due to commercial hunting for the bushmeat trade, diseases such as the Ebola virus, as well as the illegal pet trade and habitat destruction from logging. It is estimated that there are approximately 200,000 western lowland gorillas in their native West Africa habitat (the forests of Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Nigeria, Congo, and Angola).
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About the Chicago Zoological Society
The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by connecting people with wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. Its Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare is at the forefront of animal care that strives to discover and implement innovative approaches to zoo animal management. Brookfield Zoo is the first zoo in the world to be awarded the Humane Certified™ certification mark for the care and welfare of its animals, meeting American Humane Association’s rigorous certification standards. Open every day of the year, the zoo is located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield, Illinois, between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and is also accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, CTA and PACE bus service. For further information, visit


Sondra Katzen
Media Relations Manager
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071


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