Posts Tagged With: gorilla

Adopting a lot of (furry, scaly, feathery) love

David with his now adult children, Amanda and Ryan.

David with his now adult children, Amanda and Ryan.

It was December 1985, and Oak Cliff resident David Luther was about to celebrate his daughter Amanda’s first Christmas. He wanted to give his little girl something special, something she’d have for years to come that would never be the same. David gave her the intangible gift of adopting a Dallas Zoo animal.

“It was like eating potato chips — once you did it, it just made sense to do it again and again,” David said.

And he did. The following Christmas he adopted another animal for his newborn son, Ryan.

“It wasn’t until they were 3 and 4 that they started understanding the adoption,” David explained. “When we adopted the red panda, it was always the first place we would stop, to find them in the trees. Then when baby gorilla Jake became the adoptee, the kids would say, ‘That’s our gorilla!’ It made each visit a little more special and personal.”

It’s a present David has continued to give for almost 30 years now, making him one of our longest-running adopters in the Adopt-An-Animal program. While we’re incredibly grateful for his decades of generosity, David says it’s nice to have one Christmas gift in the bag he never has to worry about.

“Adopting these animals is just another way we can support the Zoo,” he said. “It’s fun, and it gives us something to look for every time we go. Their wellbeing is important to us, and to know we have a special connection to that Zoo resident.”

Baby gorilla Wakub (nicknamed Jake) born in 1998.

Baby gorilla Wakub (nicknamed Jake) born in 1998.

Luther says to this day, his daughter remembers baby Jake. “My kids are grown up, but we’ll still come to the Zoo, and my daughter still says Jake was her favorite. I think it’s a lifelong commitment for us. I’ve made it this long, I might as well continue.”

Adopting one of 50 available animals helps provide care and feeding for that resident, habitat improvements, enrichment items and zookeeper training. Your adopted animal will remain at the Zoo, where we can give it the expert care it deserves with the help of your support.

All adoptions are valid for one year and include a personalized package. For more information and to see the list of available adoptees, click HERE.


Categories: Africa, Conservation, Gorilla | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Update: Gorilla Patrick prospers in new home

Gorilla Patrick in his new habitat at the Riverbanks Zoo

Gorilla Patrick in his new habitat at the Riverbanks Zoo. Emily Guertin/Riverbanks Zoo

It’s been a year since we said farewell to our beloved Western lowland gorilla Patrick. You helped us send off the 24-year-old silverback with presents, cupcakes, cards, and a whole lot of love. Patrick now calls the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden in Columbia, S.C., home.

Patrick was hand-raised by keepers at the Bronx Zoo due to maternal neglect. But he grew to prefer his own company more than socializing with other gorillas. After years of trying to socialize him with his own kind, it became clear he prefers to live a solitary life. The move to Riverbanks Zoo gave him the opportunity to fully thrive by himself, but in close proximity to other gorillas.

Riverbanks Zoo’s curator of mammals, John Davis, says Patrick fits in perfectly at his new home. Just as he was a visitor favorite for 18 years at the Dallas Zoo, Patrick has continued to have special interactions with Riverbanks

zookeepers and guests. “Patrick is a real crowd-pleaser,” Davis said. “Some people call just to make sure he’s out before they come.”

However, saying goodbye to Patrick wasn’t only hard for our team, but also our guests. Seven-year-old Zoé Neff feels a special connection with Patrick, and recently traveled across the country with her Grandmother to visit him.

7-year-old Zoe visits Patrick for the first time in a year

7-year-old Zoe visits Patrick for the first time in a year/Janis Whitt

“She cried for two days after Patrick left. She’s known him since she was 7 weeks old,” said her mother, April Neff. “We used put her up to the glass and he would follow her all around. It was love at first sight.”

And it was that interaction Zoé knew they’d have again. With her hands pressed hands against the glass, she peered into Patrick’s new home and waited for her friend to notice her. “When she finally got his attention, he ran to the glass to say hello,” Neff said. “Zoé swears Patrick remembers her.”

Davis says the other gorillas ignore the public for the most part, but Patrick loves being with guests.

Patrick joins three other male gorillas. Although he is never physically with them, he can vocalize with them, smell them and have visual contact through a mesh barrier. “Patrick is the only gorilla who’s allowed access to both the outdoor habitat at night and the indoor quarters,” Davis said. “He has more choices, but he likes to hang near the other gorillas and see them.”

Zoe and Patrick bond through the viewing glass at Riverbanks Zoo

Zoe and Patrick bond through the viewing glass at Riverbanks Zoo/Janis Whitt

He’s also caught the eyes of his keepers, who’ve learned just how smart he is. “The keepers think very highly of him. He responds nicely with training and uses tools remarkably well,” Davis explained. “He’s great at using a stick to retrieve things outside of his exhibit during enrichment activities.”

We couldn’t be more proud of Patrick for embracing his new home and giving visitors a reason to want to learn more about his species. If you’re ever in South Carolina, stop by the Riverbanks Zoo.

The Dallas Zoo works with the Gorilla Species Survival Plan to place and breed endangered animals in accredited zoos across the nation. Western lowland gorillas inhabit the thick rainforests and swamps of Africa. Due to poaching, habitat loss and disease, their numbers in the wild have fallen by more than 60 percent in the past 20 years.


Categories: Africa, Conservation, Gorilla | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

New silverback joins female gorillas

Silverback Subira in his new habitat at the Dallas Zoo.

Silverback Subira in his new habitat at the Dallas Zoo.

He’s a sight for sore eyes — a handsome fella and a patient man (swooning much?). Subira, a 19-year-old Western lowland gorilla, has joined the Dallas Zoo troop as a breeding male, creating our first family group in over a decade.

The silverback couldn’t be a better fit for our three gorilla girls: Megan, Madge and Shanta. Subira already has caught the eye of 9-year-old Megan. “She’s definitely the most interested and the least nervous about getting close to him,” mammal supervisor Sarah Villarreal said. “She’s very pushy and stays very close, trying to appease him.”

Subira is very caring and the introductions have gone perfectly. All four gorillas have been together 24 hours a day since last week. Subira went out into the habitat with the females for the first time this week, but is still a little hesitant to explore.

Western lowland gorilla, Subira

Western lowland gorilla, Subira

He comes from the Granby Zoo in Quebec, Canada, where he’s lived for the past five years. “This is huge for the Dallas Zoo, since we haven’t had a gorilla baby in over 10 years,” said Keith Zdrojewski, mammal curator. “It was hard work to get an international gorilla here with the amount of paperwork and agencies involved. We’ve put in a lot of effort to bring him here for this purpose.”

The breeding recommendation comes from the Species Survival Plan (SSP) for Western lowland gorillas. SSP is a conservation and breeding program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums that manages efforts to ensure genetic diversity for the survival of endangered species.

It’s a hopeful future for our new family group! You can find the group out every day in the north habitat, along the Gorilla Trail entrance near the Giants of the Savanna.

Categories: Africa, Conservation, Gorilla, Mammals | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Second-graders pitch new animals to our team

It’s not every day we have a group of 8-year-olds pitching our experts on what animals they think our zoo should have. That’s exactly what Lesa Haney’s second-grade Polser Elementary class did, with enthusiasm, confidence, and a whole lot of research.

The class of 21 second-graders researched five animals they think should be in our collection: pandas, dog-faced bats, hummingbirds, a komodo dragon, and gorillas (although we already have gorillas, we still listened).

Check out the Dallas Zoo as they Skype with Polser Elementary.

Harrison Edell and Marti Copeland are beamed directly into a Polser Elementary classroom via Skype, which is how they discussed the students’ suggestions for new animals.

Our senior director of living collections, Harrison Edell, and our director of education, Marti Copeland, Skyped with the class as they presented their projects and asked questions.

We were amazed at the effort the children put into their pitches. They spent three weeks working on their presentations, which included a fully designed panda and gorilla habitat made out of clay and a dog-faced bat puppet show. And our experts agreed we’d love to have any of the animals the students suggested here at the Zoo.

And because they’re modern students, they even tweeted their project on Twitter, bringing engagement from The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. To learn more about the project and to watch their YouTube video presentations, click here.



Categories: Education | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Brought to you by the Dallas Zoo