Ndume joined the Gorilla Foundation/Koko.org in 1991, after spending his first 10 years at the Cincinnati Zoo.  Born in 1981 and already a father of three, 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.

With Koko's passing (in June of 2018), The Gorilla Foundation is now working to establish a natural gorilla family group or Ndume — to augment his human (great ape) support group, some of whom have been with him for 27 years.  See the latest Press Release for an update ...



When Koko Met Ndume (video)



Full Name:



"Male" (Swahili)

Hair Color:

Black with silvering back

Eye Color:

Warm Brown


Approximately 6'0"


400 pounds


October 10, 1981 (Age 30 in 2011)

Place of Birth:

Cincinnati, OH


Uses natural gorilla gestures and vocalizations

Favorite Color:


Favorite Foods:

Peanuts, carrots, apples, potatoes, celery

Favorite Shows:

"Wild Kingdom"

Favorite Movie:


Favorite Toy:

Blue 50 gallon plastic barrel, phone books, cardboard boxes

Favorite Activities:

Eating, sleeping in the sun, playing chase

Family Members:

Many relatives and three offspring in zoos around the U.S.



Contact Us



The Gorilla Foundation / Koko.org
1733 Woodside Rd., Suite 330
Redwood City, CA, 94061
1-800-ME-GO-APE (634-6273)

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Why become a member?

Our mission is to learn about gorillas by communicating with them, and apply our knowledge to advance great ape conservation, education, care and empathy.

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