July 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.