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Clare Meeker's 'Growing Up Gorilla' shines a light on Yola's heartwarming story

Posted by Elizabeth Bacher, Communications

Recently we shared the exciting news about Western lowland gorilla Uzumma’s pregnancy and the buzz about her first offspring with Kwame. While we wait for this new precious member of our gorilla family to be born we’re happy to share news related to the last baby born into that family—the now 4-year-old Yola.

Seattle author Clare Meeker spent more than two years documenting Yola’s story and has recently published a book about it. Yola was born in 2015 to Nadiri and Vip. Because Nadiri was partially human-raised as an infant and had no experience as a mom, we were prepared for the possibility that she might not know what to do when she gave birth and that she might not immediately bond with her baby. Indeed, Yola’s first few months were spent in the care of her dedicated keepers who constantly stayed in close proximity to Nadiri. The goal was to help Nadiri bond with her baby while her maternal instincts slowly kicked in—ultimately allowing th…
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Preparing for a Gorilla Birth: What to Expect When You're Expecting, Part 2

Posted by Elizabeth Bacher with Stephanie Jacobs

In part one of this blog, gorilla keeper Stephanie Jacobs told us how first-time expectant-mother Uzumma is doing and filled us in on all the work that happens behind the scenes to prepare for a gorilla pregnancy. So let’s pick up the conversation with questions about getting ready for a birth and everything that comes next.

WPZ: Thanks again, Stephanie for giving us a behind-the-scenes peek into the gorilla unit. So what happens while we all wait for this baby to be born? Obviously you and the other keepers are watching and waiting, but what else needs to happen before a baby arrives?

Stephanie: So much happens! Really, we’re all over-the-moon excited [about Uzumma’s pregnancy by Kwame], but there is a lot to do. To begin with, keepers and the Animal Health Department make sure Uzumma’s BMP (birth management plan) is all ready to go. This is a document identifying what needs to be done prior to the birth, any anticipated complications …

Update on Uzumma's pregnancy. What to Expect When You’re Expecting: Gorilla Edition

Posted by Elizabeth Bacher with Stephanie Jacobs

We recently announced that Uzumma, our 12-year-old western lowland gorilla, is expecting her first baby next March. The father is 20-year-old Kwame and this baby will be their first offspring together. Kwame arrived at Woodland Park Zoo in 2018 following the unexpected death of Leonel. The absence of a silverback (a male leader and protector) can be very destabilizing for a gorilla family, but Kwame’s confident leadership has unified the whole family group over this last year—enabling Uzumma and her whole troop to be ready for this exciting new chapter. We chatted with animal keeper Stephanie Jacobs to find out how our gorilla team prepares for a gorilla pregnancy and why they think Uzumma has what it takes to be a great first-time mother.

WPZ: First of all, how’s Uzumma doing? 

Stephanie: As she finishes her 2nd trimester, Uzumma is doing great. She exhibited a few food preferences in her 1st trimester—soaked chow as opposed to dry and…

Slytherin House Forever: Our magical corn snakes would love to meet you!

Posted by Elizabeth Bacher, Communications

We’d like you to get to know two snakes that are very special to us: Salem and Knox. These 5-year-old corn snake brothers joined our zoo family as youngsters and they’re still as close as can be!

Corn snakes are a North American species of rat snake that subdues its prey by constriction or squeezing. They are not venomous. They can come in many different colors and patterns which allows for occasional misidentification as a more dangerous species, but are generally harmless to humans. In nature, corn snakes are very important for pest control. It is thought they got their name because they can often be found near corn and grain storage areas, where they help control rodent populations.

Salem and Knox live together and like to share a hide box, so sometimes there are two little heads sticking out from the house. They usually prefer to dine alone but otherwise get along really well. Their favorite snacks are mice and they enjoy exploring new sm…

2-year-old lionesses, Kamaria and Ilanga, join Xerxes on the African Savanna

Posted by Meghan Sawyer, Communications Photos by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, Woodland Park Zoo

Two African lions recently arrived at Woodland Park Zoo to form a new pride with 11-year-old Xerxes. Two-year-old sisters Kamaria and Ilanga arrived from The Idaho Falls Zoo at Tautphaus Park located in eastern Idaho. 

“We’re so excited for the girls to be here because lions are social animals, and Xerxes has been living solo since his former mate Adia passed away earlier this year,” said Christine Anne, a lead animal keeper at Woodland Park Zoo. “Kamaria and Ilanga have a ton of energy, so it will be fun to watch Xerxes try to keep up.” 

The lionesses were brought to Woodland Park Zoo under a breeding recommendation by the African Lion Species Survival Plan, a conservation breeding program across accredited zoos to help ensure a healthy, self-sustaining population of lions. It’s one of 111 Species Survival Plans that Woodland Park Zoo participates in, led by experts in husbandry, nutrition, veter…

Where Hope Takes Root

In the forest, you’re likely to hear an orangutan long before you see one. A rustling in the leaves. A tree limb snap. A crisp lip smack to warn you if you’re getting too close.

Tracking these sounds, Mislin and her team of wildlife researchers know they are in the right place when they spot mounds of broken branches and piled leaves in the canopy—fresh orangutan nests.

There’s a stirring in one of them. A treetop toddler pokes a red head through the leaves. The team’s data logger records the behavior. “We take note, every three minutes,” Mislin explains.

Peeling away from mom, the four-year-old orangutan climbs out on a limb for a closer view of us. It would seem she’s conducting her own primate study.

Mislin recognizes the young one, whom they’ve named Mamai and keep regular track of in their study. Composed entirely of local community members hired and trained by HUTAN, one of Woodland Park Zoo’s conservation partners, Mislin’s team is here to investigate: how are endangered orang…

Baby on the way for gorilla Uzumma

Posted by Gigi Allianic, Communications

We've got some very lovely news to share, Uzumma, a western lowland gorilla is pregnant for the first time! The expectant father is 18-year-old Kwame.

Uzumma, who turns 12 in October, has just ended the first trimester of her pregnancy and is due to give birth in March 2020. The gestation period for gorillas is eight to nine months, similar to humans.

The last birth of a gorilla at Woodland Park Zoo was Yola, a female gorilla born in November 2015.

Woodland Park Zoo is renowned for its successful gorilla breeding program and its excellent birth management plans, including pre- and post-natal care. To help ensure a successful pregnancy and birth, the pre-natal care includes regular veterinary check-ups leading up to the birth, a diet created by a nutritionist, supplemental vitamins to help Uzumma maintain a healthy weight for a normal delivery and ultrasound exams.


The gorilla keepers have worked hard to understand their animals. As part of…