In the wild, western lowland gorillas typically stick together in groups with one dominant male leader and several female gorillas and their offspring. At Zoo Miami, our late Jimmy Jr., a.k.a. JJ, was the leader of our troop of gorillas. JJ was what’s known as a silverback. This name comes from the distinctive silver patch on a gorilla’s back that comes with maturity. As the silverback, JJ was in charge of the the females that he lived with. During the day, he was usually spotted lounging around by the viewing glass. When he was with zookeepers, JJ showed more energy, pounding on his chest and holding out his hands when asking for rewards during enrichment activities. His favorite activities were pretty much anything that involved getting his feet wet! Of the females, 50 -year-old Josephine was the oldest and had taken the role of leadership. Having been with JJ for quite a while, and being the oldest gorilla, Josephine took on a matriarchal role, acting motherly toward the younger 42 year old female Fredrika. Our gorillas enjoy enrichment activities that simulate activities they would do in the wild. For example, since gorillas are huge nest-builders, keepers provide materials twice a day so that the troop can build their own nests. Keepers will also scatter food around their homes so that the gorillas can “hunt” for their meals, keeping them sharp and entertained. We are very sad to announce that J.J. passed away on Saturday, October 4, 2014, and Josephine was humanly euthanized due to her advance age and health issues on Wednesday, January 18, 2017.
With Josephine’s passing, Fredrika, a 42 year old female, is the only gorilla that remains at Zoo Miami. It is most likely that she will be transferred to another institution so that she can be socialized with another gorilla troop. At that time, Zoo Miami will wait for the recommendation of the Gorilla SSP (Species Survival Plan) coordinator as to what gorillas will come to Zoo Miami to establish a new troop.