Our Gorilla Kingdom brings the African rainforest to the heart of London. You’ll be able to meet Africa’s most exciting residents, featuring our colony of western lowland gorillas. With breathtakingly close views, this is one encounter you’ll be sure to remember.
When you step into this atmospheric exhibit, you’ll first be able to explore our African aviary before moving on into our Gorilla Kingdom. This natural and engaging environment is home to our gorillas, featuring a stunning clearing, their own personal island, and an indoor gymnasium.
Our colony of gorillas is led by our impressive male silverback – Kumbuka. In 2014, Kumbuka parented his first offspring with mate Mjukuu. This new arrival is a baby girl named Alika, meaning ‘most beautiful’ and she joins the other females of the troop – Effie and Zaire. Large viewing areas and an engaging habitat means you’ll have the very best vantage point for seeing this hairy family.
Want to monkey around some more? Venture further into this exhibit and discover more primates, including our families of white-naped mangabeys and white colobus monkeys. There are loads for you to encounter and share in this truly wild exhibit!
Meet some of the Gorillas who live at ZSL London Zoo...
Zaire was born in Jersey Zoo, and came to ZSL London Zoo in 1984. She is a playful and mischievous character who is known for sometimes doing precisely the opposite of what the keepers want.
Mjukuu, or ‘Jookie’ as she’s nicknamed, joined ZSL London Zoo’s Gorilla Kingdom from a group of eleven gorillas at another zoo.
ZSL London Zoo's youngest gorilla is 5ft tall and weighs around 65 kilos.
Effie is the "teenager" of the group. She is well-known in the Zoo for her huge appetite and will happily steal the other gorillas' food if no one is looking.
Silverback Kumbuka is a male 16-year-old western lowland gorilla. He arrived at ZSL London Zoo from Paignton Zoo in Devon in early 2013, and despite never having had a female mate before,was quickly spotted flirting with females Mjukuu and Effie.
Western lowland gorillas, found only in central Africa, are now classified as Critically Endangered with their populations being decimated by habitat loss, disease and hunting.
As human populations grow and rainforests shrink, conservation becomes a complicated balancing act. For hundreds of thousands of years, the forest has supplied the needs – including food and medicine – of the people who live there.
Local people rely on the animals of the forest for meat and hunt a variety of species known collectively as bushmeat. Without bushmeat, their diet would be short of protein. Eating bushmeat is just like eating wild salmon or wild rabbit – it’s just that the animals are different.
In recent years, bushmeat hunting has seen a commercial increase that has reached an unsustainable level. More efficient hunting techniques combined with improved access to forest areas via roads built for the logging and mining industry means many species can’t reproduce fast enough to recover from what is now increasingly commercial hunting. Although not all local people eat gorilla meat, many have a high regard for it which means the trade in gorillas is a major threat to their survival – their meat has even been found in markets here in London as part of the burgeoning international bushmeat trade.
Bushmeat is a complex topic. While it is illegal to hunt endangered species and to hunt in protected areas, the lack of capacity to enforce these laws often means that even where the forests themselves are being protected, they are being emptied of their animals. There are also ethical questions to reconcile when working in this environment. Is it right to stop people driven by poverty and hunger from hunting to feed their families?
ZSL researchers are trying to understand the problem by exploring the scale and sustainability of the bushmeat trade and the dependency of people on bushmeat for both food and income, in order to find solutions that work for both people and wildlife.
A second project in the Africa Conservation Programme is working with the Congolese park authorities in Virunga National Park, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, to support the conservation of its wildlife, which includes the rare mountain gorilla in the south of the park and a population of eastern lowland gorillas in the north.
On 10th December 2014, ZSL London Zoo was delighted to welcome baby Alika into the gorilla family.
Alika – meaning most beautiful – was born at the zoo following an eight and half month gestation period. She is cared for by her mother Mjukuu, a 15-year-old gorilla who caught father Kumbuka’s eye on his arrival in 2013.
Our new baby girl is the first offspring to the Zoo’s silverback male Kumbuka, who arrived at the zoo in 2013 from Paignton Zoo. Kumbuka likes to take a backseat approach to parenting and leaves most of the care up to his mate Mjukuu.
Western-lowland gorillas are critically endangered in the wild, so little Alika is a really important addition not only to the Zoo, but for the European conservation breeding programme.