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The Milwaukee County Zoo
Receives New Gorilla Family Unit
from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Gorilla Nadami
Nadami is 10 years old, and a bit more cautious than Oliver and Dotty, though she’s also curious.
Photos courtesy of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

Posted April 2021

Three Western lowland gorillas have safely transferred to the Milwaukee County Zoo from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

Male silverback, Oliver, and females Nadami and Dotty, arrived at the Zoo yesterday, late in the afternoon. Animal care staff say all three gorillas are doing well in the off-exhibit quarantine area. (All arrivals to MCZ spend at least 30 days in quarantine for their health and safety.)

One member of the Milwaukee County Zoo’s Animal Care staff travelled to Columbus for the transfer; two Columbus Zoo Animal care team members, a member of the Facilities team and a staff veterinarian accompanied the gorillas to Milwaukee.

Oliver, Nadami and Dotty lived well together as a family unit at the Columbus Zoo. Columbus Zoo Animal Care staff say 32-year-old Oliver has a laid-back personality but is still very serious when it comes to his role as the silverback and the leader of his troop. Even though he is hearing impaired from an illness when he was young, he communicates well with his troop.

Gorilla Dotty
Dotty is 17 years old and has lived together with Oliver for several years. They like to wrestle and laugh with one another.

At 17 years, Dotty has a lot of spunk and is very playful with Oliver and the keeper staff. Oliver and Dotty have been together for several years and often wrestle and laugh with one another. Nadami, who is 10 years old, is a bit more cautious and reserved, though she is also very curious. She is fitting in well with Oliver as well as Dotty, who has shown playful behaviors toward her.

Currently, the Milwaukee County Zoo is home to two male gorillas, 29-year-old Maji and 26-year-old Hodari. Maji and Hodari are half-brothers, who have the same mother, and have spent most of their lives together. Bachelor groups like Maji and Hodari are necessary in Zoo populations to provide the social needs of other non-breeding males. They will be managed and cared for as a separate group, and won’t be introduced to Oliver’s troop.

Oliver, Dotty and Nadami’s move was recommended through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan® which serves to maximize the genetic diversity and increase the population sustainability of threatened and endangered species in human care.

In 2018, MCZ’s female gorilla youngster, Zahra, transferred to the Columbus Zoo, as her mother had unexpectedly died. She required the stability of a family unit, which included a female gorilla to act as a surrogate mother. In 2019, male youngster, Sulaiman (Sully), and his mother, Shalia, also transferred to Columbus, joining with Zahra in her family unit at that time.

Gorilla Oliver
Oliver is 32 years old and lived with Nadami and Dotty as a family unit at the Columbus Zoo.

Both Nadami and Dotty, who are excellent genetic matches for Oliver, have received SSP® recommendations to breed with him at the Milwaukee County Zoo as part of the efforts to help protect the future of the species.

After the quarantine period, the new gorillas will be slowly and carefully introduced to their off-exhibit areas, and then eventually to the habitats in public view. Because Oliver is hearing impaired, the entire process may take several months or more, and animal care staff will move forward at his pace and comfort level.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Western lowland gorillas are listed as critically endangered. Habitat loss and deforestation have historically been the primary cause for declining populations of Africa’s great apes. However, experts now agree that the illegal commercial bushmeat trade has surpassed habitat loss as the primary threat to ape populations – particularly for Western lowland gorillas.

The Milwaukee County Zoo will keep visitors and media apprised of the transition process for the new gorillas and look forward to providing further details on the troop members and their acclimation to their new home.

For more information, please contact the Zoo’s Marketing and Communications Department at 414.256.5411.