We’re carrying out some improvement works to Gorilla Kingdom here at ZSL London Zoo.
On Monday – Fridays from now until 27 May, the Gorilla Kingdom day gym will not be accessible. Visitors can still access the pathways to see the troop of gorillas enjoying their outside island.
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: a baby girl named Alika, which means ‘most beautiful’. In 2015 Kumbuka's second offspring, a male called Gernot, was born. The group is completed by females Effie and Zaire. Large viewing areas and an engaging habitat means you’ll have the very best vantage point for seeing this special 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!
There are more than just Gorillas in Gorilla Kingdom - find out who else inhabits this 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 our male 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.
Alika – meaning most beautiful – was born at the zoo on December 10th 2014. She is cared for by her mother Mjukuu, a 17-year-old gorilla who caught the eye of father Kumbuka on his arrival in 2013.
Born to mum Effie and dad Kumbuka on 25 November 2015, adorable Gernot is the latest addition to Gorilla Kindgom and has been receiving lots of attention from his older sister Alika.
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.
Following an eight and a half month gestation period, 22-year-old Effie gave birth to baby Gernot in the early hours on Wednesday 25 November 2015.
The latest arrival in Gorilla Kingdom is the second infant to be born to Kumbuka, ZSL London Zoo's silverback male.
Female infant Alika has been showering her sibling with affection, tentatively touching his head and stroking his face while he sleeps in his mother's arms.
The Western-lowland gorilla baby was named Gernot, after the partner of a generous donor who has helped to support the Zoological Society of London’s (ZSL) international work for wildlife.
Gorilla keeper Glynn Hennessy said: "Baby gorilla Gernot has quickly become the centre of attention at ZSL London Zoo's Gorilla Kingdom, but one-year-old Alika has embraced her new role of the doting big sister.
"Western lowland gorillas live in troops and learn how to act from observing each other’s behaviours and manners and here we can see Alika demonstrating some of the nurturing skills she's learned from the adults.
"Classed as critically endangered in the wild, the survival of Western-lowland gorillas is threatened by habitat loss and hunting, and Zoos play an important role in supporting wild conservation efforts."
Visitors to ZSL London Zoo can see Gernot and Alika with the rest of the troop in Gorilla Kingdom.