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Zach at the Zoo: Meet the Western Lowland Gorillas

Posted at 6:21 AM, Feb 22, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-22 07:21:42-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — 3 News Now Anchor Zach Williamson continues his weekly series 'Zach at the Zoo'. This week, he better introduces us to an entire family of Western Lowland Gorillas that call Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium home.

  • We visit a troop of western lowland gorillas at the Hubbard Gorilla Valley and learn a bit about each one.
  • Senior Great Ape Keeper Clarity Stevens teaches us some unique facts about gorillas
  • You can help save gorillas in the wild through the zoo's Gorillas on the Line campaign.


It’s a family reunion every day at the Hubbard Gorilla Valley.

“There are five in this family group. We have Muke, Bambio, K’gosi, Zuri, and Tambo,” Senior Great Ape Keeper Clarity Stevens said.

“They definitely all have their different personalities and it’s so neat to work with every single one because they’re all so different.”

A very hospitable group, they took time introducing themselves to me!

“There’s Muke. She is 42. She turns 43 in September, so she’s our oldest female.”

Z'gosi knocked on the glass, “Z'gosi said, ‘hey get out of the camera shot. My time to shine!” I said.

Stevens responded, “Yeah, the spotlight is on me! Yes, K’gosi, and that’s typical big brother behavior."

“Bambio — we feel she’s like one of our most intelligent gorillas. She’s always looking at things trying to figure them out,” she added.

Ziri was a little camera shy, but it wasn’t hard to find papa (Tambo).

“You know, having multiple girls in a family, you can have some spats once in a while. So, the father, the silverback, he kind of keeps them all in line and makes sure everything is running smoothly," Stevens said. "We usually call them the stabilizer of the family group.”

Outside of Tambo, who is obvious to differentiate, there's a unique way to tell them apart.

“Their noses are different. So, our fingerprints are what their nose prints are like. Every single gorilla has a different nose print.”

Stevens tells me the gorillas are incredibly smart. Frequently using tools to get to enrichment and snacks and communicating well with the keepers.

“We sit down with them and train them in different body part presentations — so they show us their shoulders, their feet, they’ll open their mouth for us — so if they get a chipped tooth, we can open their mouth and see that," Stevens said.

“Learning new things every day is definitely super important for them and is fun for us too.”

Unfortunately, the western lowland gorillas are a critically endangered species.

But the Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium has a campaign that you can contribute to that helps.

“It’s called Gorillas on the Line. And people can bring in old, unused electronics and we recycle those. That helps decrease the mining for cobalt, which is very prolific in the gorilla habitat," Stevens said. "So, by bringing in those, we can recycle those it decreases cutting into the gorilla habitat a little bit.”

That includes things like cameras, cellphones, smart watches, and iPads. All can be dropped off at guest services to help families of gorillas in the wild.

To visit this family – go to the Hubbard Gorilla Valley – located across from the Simmons Aviary.