Knoxville Zoo's New Gorilla Exploring Gorilla Valley Exhibit

Communications Director

Eric Vreeland
evreeland@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 215-3480

400 Main St., Room 654A
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Knoxville Zoo's New Gorilla Exploring Gorilla Valley Exhibit

Posted: 07/22/2010
Ajari, the Western lowland gorilla who made his public debut last month in the Gorilla Courtyard, can now be seen in the one-acre Gorilla Valley exhibit. The 285 pound blackback gorilla is exploring his new area, which now features a new climbing structure that was added to give the exhibit more vertical space. He will be alternating time in the exhibit with Bantu, the zoo's 12-year-old male gorilla.

Once Ajari has time to acclimate to his new surroundings, zoo staff plan to begin introductions between Ajari and Bantu. The decision to bring Ajari to Knoxville to form a bachelor group with Bantu was a social management recommendation of the Species Survival Plan (SSP) for Western lowland gorillas, which manages the placement of gorillas in zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

Zoo staff anticipates Ajari and Bantu will be good companions for each other since they are both juvenile males. In the wild, adolescent males will leave their natal groups and either join a bachelor group or strike out on their own for a few years until they are mature enough to assume the role of alpha male in a group of female gorillas, known as a harem.

Knoxville Zoo is Knoxville's largest year-round attraction. Located off exit 392A from Interstate 40, the zoo is open every day except Christmas Day. Knoxville Zoo is nationally accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and is committed to the highest standards in animal care and well-being, ethics, conservation, and education. Currently, the zoo is open daily from 9:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Admission and ticket sales stop one-hour before the zoo closes. Next-day admission is free after 3 p.m. For more information, please call 865-637-5331 ext. 300 or visit www.knoxville-zoo.org.