What Do They Eat?

Koko (photo at right) is offered 7 pounds of food daily, spread out over 7 meals. Ndume (above photo) gets 11 pounds of food, and he also is given 7 meals daily. Caregivers spend a good part of the day, preparing food and feeding the gorillas. Free-living gorillas in Africa spend 40%-60% of their day acquiring and processing food, so we try to present food in innovative ways that will extend the gorillas’ foraging time. The gorillas’ diet is primarily plant-based. Through years of discovery, and based on findings about free-living gorilla nutrition, Koko and Ndume’s diets have been fine-tuned to meet their individual nutritional needs. Almost all of their food is organically grown. The diet consists of fresh greens, herbs, fruits and vegetables, and proteins that are primarily plant-based.

Sample of Koko’s evening greens tray

Each gorilla has favorite foods. Koko loves to eat organically grown flowers, especially calendulas, carnations, pansies, and roses. She also loves prunes and other stone fruits, berries, and plantains. Although Ndume doesn’t eat flowers, he loves rose leaves and both enjoy grape leaves. Other favorites include tempeh, quinoa, green beans, kale, and tamarind pods. Greens make up a large part of the gorillas’ diet, and we have “produce” volunteers who every morning help prepare greens, herbs, and other vegetables for the gorillas. We also have several partners (local grocers, produce vendors, and organic grocers) who donate food for Koko and Ndume.