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June 10, 2022

Western Lowland Gorilla Nadaya Joins New Zoo

Male western lowland gorilla Nadaya (Nah-DIE-ya) arrived safely at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Washington last week, completing a move that was based on a breeding recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

Nadaya is a 22-year-old male gorilla. He arrived at the Saint Louis Zoo in 2011 with his half-brother Bakari, and he has also lived with male gorillas Joe and Jontu since his arrival. Adult male gorillas are also known as "silverbacks." Bachelor groups are groups of silverbacks and young adult male gorillas that live and travel together and are a type of social group commonly found in the wild.

A breeding recommendation based on Nadaya's personality and genetics was made through the AZA Species Survival Plan (SSP) for western lowland gorillas, a conservation breeding program that manages a genetically healthy population of this species in North American zoos. This move was made in hopes of growing and strengthening the western lowland gorilla population by providing Nadaya the opportunity of creating a family. He will be joining a group with adult females in the hopes of future breeding to create a family group at the Woodland Park Zoo.

"Though we will all miss Nadaya, especially the Primate Care Team that has worked with him for so many years, we could not be happier about his arrival at his new home. Nadaya is an amazing gorilla, and we are excited he will have the opportunity to have a family of his own. This move is really about the long-term success of this critically-endangered species, but we also know it is the start of a new, exciting chapter for Nadaya," said Heidi Hellmuth, Curator of Primates, Saint Louis Zoo.

The Saint Louis Zoo has a long history with the AZA SSP for western lowland gorillas. The Jungle of the Apes team pioneered forming the first bachelor group of western lowland gorillas, along with the first successful integration of two bachelor groups. Although western lowland gorillas are the most common of four subspecies of gorilla, they are critically endangered and are facing the threat of complete extinction in the wild. The bachelor group at the Saint Louis Zoo is critical for the species' survival; It prepares male gorillas for the possibility of leading a family in the future.

We support western lowland gorillas through the AZA SSP for the western lowland gorilla and through the Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute Center for the Conservation of Congo Apes. With this move, there is still a bachelor group of gorillas that live at the Saint Louis Zoo.


Saint Louis Zoo (314) 781-0900
Billy Brennan (314) 646-4633;
Christy Childs (314) 646-4639;
Kirby Ewald (314) 646-4945;
Megan Pellock (314) 646-4703;

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