Ndume joined the Gorilla Foundation/Koko.org in 1991, after spending his first 10 years at the Cincinnati Zoo, and . Born in 1981 and already a father of three by the age of 10, the 400-pound Ndume was Koko’s intended mate. Ndume has also provided the opportunity for us to discover methods of dealing with aberrant behaviors. This information will benefit all captive gorillas.
Koko selected Ndume from a number of available males (via a process akin to “video dating”— see intro video below) and though they became good friends, they did not become mates. The suspected reason for this is that Koko was never given the opportunity (by the zoo community) to have a natural gorilla family group — with multiple females and one male. This female support system is important because of how much bigger and stronger gorilla males are than females.
After Koko passed away (in June of 2018), The Cincinnati Zoo (CZ) requested that Ndume be transferred “back” to The Cincinnati Zoo (after 27 years of life at the Gorilla Foundation’s private sanctuary). Because of an ownership agreement, The Gorilla Foundation had no choice but to comply (after contesting the risky move for almost a year in the courts). While the zoo had a valid point that Ndume could benefit from being around other gorillas, TGF felt it would be better to provide such gorilla companionship to Ndume at the Foundation, so that he could keep his life-long human companions a well. At the time of this writing, Ndume had just arrived at CZ, along with two of his favorite TGF caregivers, who will be spending up to 2 months with him to support his adaption, which we hope proceeds smoothly. Stay tuned for updates …