A word you may not always associate with a silverback gorilla is chill. But that’s exactly how the animal staff at the Milwaukee County Zoo are referring to Azizi the new silverback. After first arriving in January, Azizi made his debut in the Stearns Family Apes of Africa & Primates of the World building in early March alongside the Zoo’s two female gorillas, Dotty and Nadami. And so far, things have been going great for this new group.

Silverback Gorilla

“We just had the typical concerns for any ape introduction,” said Trish Khan curator of primates and small mammals. “A lot of consideration from the Western Lowland Gorilla Species Survival Plan®(SSP), Lincoln Park Zoo and Milwaukee County Zoo went into choosing the correct male to fit with our girls and our facilities.”

Western lowland gorillas are native to the Congo Basin of Africa, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has them listed as Critically Endangered. While being the most widespread subspecies of gorilla, fewer than 150,000 western lowland gorillas remain in the wild. Thanks to the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ SSP, the Zoo found its perfect match with Azizi.

“Azizi was a great candidate from the start,” Khan said. “His personality is very chill, he was showing a lot of interest in females at Lincoln Park Zoo (LPZ), he is a good genetic match for our girls, he was the right age, and we have a strong relationship with LPZ. This all helped to make the introduction a success.”

Dotty and Nadami have been very welcoming to the 20-year-old silverback since he arrived. Silverbacks provide security, direction and stability for females and, even though it’s his first time with females and leading a family troop, Azizi is quickly settling into his new role. “Azizi is showing very normal behaviors for a good leader,” Khan said. “The girls are relaxed and responding to him appropriately. One of the keepers told me, ‘It’s like they have been together for years.’”

Since Azizi is all settled in with his new home, now is the perfect time to welcome him to the Zoo with an animal sponsorship. Check out our Animal Sponsorship page for more information on how you can help support Azizi today!

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