Three of the gorillas — Mshindi, Tulivu and Bandia — arrived from the Cincinnati Zoo, where they lived together in a troop since 2019. The fourth, Nayembi, moved from Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo. All four of these transfers were recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP). This cooperative management program ensures the sustainability of healthy, genetically diverse and demographically varied populations of animals in human care.
Mshindi is the group’s male. This silverback, whose name means “winner” in Swahili, was born Oct. 17, 1987. He is joined by females Tulivu, meaning “quiet” in Swahili, born May 2, 2004; Bandia, meaning “homemade doll or image” in Swahili, born Sept. 13, 1997; and Nayembi, meaning “to sing” in the Lingala language, born Nov. 16, 2012.
“The four new gorillas are already making themselves at home, and they are wonderful additions to the Detroit Zoo,” said Tami Brightrall, associate curator of mammals for the Detroit Zoological Society. “They each have unique personalities, and we can’t wait for our members and guests to get to know them.”
The gorillas live in the Zoo’s Great Apes of Harambee habitat, a 4-acre space also home to 13 chimpanzees. The gorilla portion of this habitat had been unoccupied since July 2023 when the Zoo said goodbye to Chipua, Kongo-Mbeli and Pendeka, three half-brother gorillas who called the Detroit Zoo home for two decades. The brothers moved to the Cincinnati Zoo in summer 2023 on an SSP recommendation. After the previous gorillas left the Detroit Zoo, the habitat underwent a series of improvements in anticipation of the new group’s arrival. These enhancements create a safe and enriching environment – contributing to the gorillas’ overall well-being and supporting the Zoo’s mission of creating meaningful connections between people, animals and the natural world so all can thrive.
To celebrate the arrival of Mshindi, Tulivu, Bandia and Nayembi, the Detroit Zoo will host a welcome party for the gorillas on Saturday, Sept. 2 and Sunday, Sept. 3. Guests who visit the Zoo on those days will learn more about the new arrivals from the animal care team that works with them every day. Habitat chats and special animal enrichments will be scheduled for 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. each day of the celebration.
The Detroit Zoological Society – a renowned leader in humane education, wildlife conservation, animal welfare and environmental sustainability – operates the Detroit Zoo and Belle Isle Nature Center. One of Michigan’s largest paid family attractions, the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak hosts more than 1.3 million visitors annually. Its 125 acres of award-winning naturalistic habitats are home to more than 2,000 animals representing more than 200 species. The Belle Isle Nature Center sits on a 5-acre site on Belle Isle State Park in Detroit. For hours, prices, directions and other information, call (248) 541-5717 or visit detroitzoo.org.