News Release
Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351,
March 23, 2023
NOTE: Scroll to end of press release to download photos.

Brookfield Zoo’s New Silverback Western Lowland Gorilla Ready to Meet Zoogoers

Brookfield, Ill. — Jontu, a 26-year-old western lowland gorilla, arrived at Brookfield Zoo in early February from Saint Louis Zoo. Since his arrival, the silverback (adult male gorilla) has been behind the scenes getting acclimated to his new surroundings, the animal care specialists, and the Zoo’s other resident gorillas.

Over the past few weeks, Jontu was given access to the Tropic World: Africa habitat. During these periods, the section was closed to guests to allow him time to get comfortable in his new home with all the members of the gorilla group—Binti, 35; Koola, 28; Kamba,18; Nora, 9; and Ali, 4.

Now, with introductions complete and Jontu seeming relaxed and engaged with enrichment items placed throughout the habitat, the nearly 500-pound ape is ready to meet zoogoers. For the time being, the gorilla family can be seen daily between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., but eventually will be able to be seen during regular Zoo hours.

A silverback gorilla plays an important role. In addition, to protecting members within the group, he also maintains harmony amongst everyone and breaks up disputes if needed. At his former home, Jontu proved to be a very calm and even-keeled leader and individual, which is what Brookfield Zoo’s gorilla group needs at this time.

"Guests may notice Jontu, sitting away from the others a lot of the time, but he is very attentive and aware of where other members of the troop are and monitors them, always looking out for their best interest,” said Tim Sullivan, interim director of primate care.

Western lowland gorillas are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources 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 300,000 western lowland gorillas found in swamps and dry lowland forests throughout Western Equatorial Africa, including in Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Cameroon, and Republic of the Congo, and 320 western lowland gorillas living in accredited North American zoos.

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 Photo Captions (credit: Jim Schulz/CZS-Brookfield Zoo)
1734, 3873, 4231, 4606, and 4760: Jontu, a 26-year-old western lowland gorilla, can now be seen in Brookfield Zoo’s Tropic World: Africa. The silverback (adult male gorilla) recently arrived at the Zoo and has been acclimating well to his new home.
2824: Jontu (foreground), Brookfield Zoo’s new 26-year-old male western lowland gorilla, and Koola, a 28-year-old female gorilla.
4650: Jontu, a 26-year-old western lowland gorilla (lower right), has been acclimating well to his new home at Brookfield Zoo. Guests can now see him and the entire gorilla family in Tropic World: Africa.

About the Chicago Zoological Society
The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by connecting people to 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. The zoo is located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield, Illinois, between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and also is accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, and CTA and PACE bus service. For further information, visit



Sondra Katzen
Director of Public Relations
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071


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