Machi Gorilla Moves to Zoo Atlanta for Specialized Geriatric Care

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
kfarley@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Machi Gorilla Moves to Zoo Atlanta for Specialized Geriatric Care

Posted: 04/02/2021
Machi at Zoo KnoxvilleMachi, a Western lowland gorilla who has lived at Zoo Knoxville since 2013, returned to Zoo Atlanta on Monday, March 29, 2021, to join their group of senior gorillas in a home designed to meet the needs of aging primates and their specialized care.  
 
Bouts with degenerative arthritis were becoming increasingly severe, limiting Machi’s mobility and making it difficult for the 45-year-old female to interact with the highly active group of young gorillas at Zoo Knoxville.  She began avoiding social interaction and was becoming withdrawn.  Knowing her quality of life could be enhanced by joining a group of similarly-aged gorillas in a living space designed with age in mind, Zoo Knoxville and Zoo Atlanta agreed she could benefit from Atlanta’s expertise in caring for geriatrics.  Zoo Atlanta is an emerging leader in working with geriatric gorillas-a relatively new area of focus in zoological gorilla care.
 
Machi lived at Zoo Atlanta before coming to Knoxville on the recommendation of the Western Lowland Gorilla Species Survival Plan, a collaborative program of zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) working to save gorillas from extinction.  In 2015, Machi gave birth to Ubuntu, a rambunctious young male who will remain in Knoxville.  Ubuntu is being closely monitored during this transition and has handled it with no obvious distress.  
 
Machi will be reunited with her mother Choomba, male Ozzie and female Kuchi, all of whom she has lived with before.
 
“Providing Machi with the care and environment that she needs at this stage of life is paramount,” said Lisa New, President and CEO of Zoo Knoxville.  “It was a decision we made with a great deal of consideration with our colleagues in Atlanta.  Their team has decades of experience and habitats specifically designed for geriatric care and a social group where she can thrive, which is what we all want for her.”    
 
Western lowland gorillas are critically endangered.  Native to the rainforests of equatorial Africa, their population continues to decline due to habitat loss, poaching, commercial hunting and outbreaks of disease.  Zoo Knoxville works with other zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to ensure the future of the species. 

Photo by Tennessee Trails Photography