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Two Western Lowland Gorillas AT MCZ will Relocate to New Home

Gorilla Sulaiman
Mother Shalia and youngster Sulaiman (Sully), October 2018

We’re happy to report that Shalia and Sully transferred safely to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium on Sept. 3.

After several weeks of acclimating to their new surroundings and introductions to the new troop, we’ll post updates here, and on our social media platforms.

Posted August 2019

Gorilla Sulaiman
Sully is 4 ½ years old

The Milwaukee County Zoo’s 17-year-old female western lowland gorilla, Shalia, and her offspring, 4 ½ -year-old male, Sulaiman (Sully), will soon transfer to a gorilla family unit at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

Sadly, Sully’s father, Cassius, passed away unexpectedly in April 2018, as did adult female, Naku.  Shalia, Sully, and Cassius and Naku’s offspring, female Zahra, were the remaining gorillas in the family group.  After participating in several months of human-assisted rearing, Zahra (Sully’s half-sister), who was 9 months old at the time, transferred to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in June 2018, per the recommendation of the Western Lowland Gorilla Species Survival Plan® (SSP). She joined a stable family unit with a female gorilla to act as a surrogate mother, and an accepting silverback male.

Gorilla Sulaiman
Sully will reunite with half-sister Zahra at the Columbus Zoo

With Shalia and Sully as the remaining family group, MCZ consulted with the Gorilla SSP and it was decided that the best environment for mother and youngster was to be placed at the Columbus Zoo within a social gorilla situation which included a silverback adult male gorilla, other females and juveniles of varying ages.

“It’s important for Sully’s social development and long-term welfare, to have bonding opportunities with other young males and have an adult male provide stability,” says Apes/Primates Curator Trish Khan.

The Columbus Zoo will offer Shalia and Sully a suitable family unit, in joining with a silverback, Mac, and his family. Mac has a history of accepting offspring other than his own, and his family group consists of several adult females and their offspring, as well as Zahra.

Gorilla Zahra
Zahra, April 2018

“While this relocation is bittersweet for MCZ staff and visitors, we know it affords the best opportunity for Shalia and Sully to thrive and interact with other gorillas of differing ages, including a silverback male who acts as a group leader and will teach Sully “etiquette” as well as his role within the group,” says Zoo Director Chuck Wikenhauser. “It’s also a wonderful opportunity for Zahra to be reunited with both gorillas.”

The Milwaukee County Zoo’s lead gorilla keeper will accompany Shalia and Sully, to make the transition as smooth as possible. Shalia and Sully will be transferred within the next few weeks, and MCZ will announce when they have arrived at their new home at the Columbus Zoo.

The Columbus Zoo is a location close enough for the Milwaukee County Zoo’s gorilla team to assist with the transition and visit often.

The remaining western lowland gorillas at the Zoo include two males, half-brothers Maji (28 years old) and Hodari, (24 years old). Both have spent most of their lives here together.  They will remain at MCZ, and bachelor groups like Maji and Hodari are necessary in zoo populations to provide for the social needs of other non-breeding males. The Zoo will work with the SSP for future recommendations of additional gorillas at MCZ in the coming months.

For more information, please contact the Zoo’s Marketing and Communications Department at (414) 256-5411.