Azizi, the Zoo’s New Silverback Gorilla, Now in the Public Habitat

Posted Date

March 12, 2024


Animal Updates, In The News


Male silverback gorilla Azizi, 20, can now be seen with his new family unit in the Stearns Family Apes of Africa building! Azizi arrived at MCZ on Jan. 10 from Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. For the first time, he’s leading a family troop, which includes females Dotty, 19, and Nadami, 13. The troop will be in the indoor habitat daily.

The family unit has had access to the indoor habitat for several days now, and the animal care team shares that during his initial few hours, Azizi first spent time “patrolling” the new space and checking for any threats that the new habitat could pose for his females. He then began to settle in, being comfortable enough to relax and take a nap, but always with a protective eye on Dotty and Nadami. Zookeepers note that the trio is “very solid and tight knit.” Nadami is particularly intrigued by Azizi and will follow him around and often touch him to get his attention — but Azizi is still very patient with her.

Check out the video below of the new troop together!

Originally posted:

The Milwaukee County Zoo is thrilled to share that a new male silverback gorilla named Azizi, 20, has been settling in here at the Zoo. In fact, he’s already been introduced to the female members of his potential family unit, Dotty, 19, and Nadami, 13. We expect him to be publicly viewable in the habitat in the Stearns Family Apes of Africa building in the near future.

Eagle-eyed gorilla fans will recognize Azizi and his striking features from his previous home at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. He arrived at MCZ on Jan. 10 and was accompanied by a member of his animal care team from Lincoln Park Zoo, who worked with MCZ’s staff over several days to help Azizi acclimate. For many years, he lived in a bachelor troop, so this will be Azizi’s first time with females, leading a family troop.

The animal care team shares that Dotty and Nadami have been doing well since the loss of their former leader, Oliver, who died on Sept. 13. The Zoo’s team has been providing continuity, enrichment, and support for the two, as it’s unnatural for female gorillas to be without a silverback. The silverback provides security, direction, and group stability. With the assistance of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Western Lowland Gorilla Species Survival Plan® (SSP), the Zoo was able to expedite the arrival of Azizi.

Like all incoming animals to the Zoo, Azizi quarantined for 30 days to make sure he didn’t have any health concerns. Rather than isolate him at the Animal Health Center, Azizi was able to quarantine in an area where he could be closer and vocalize to the other gorillas — while still being kept at a distance for health reasons. Once quarantine restrictions were lifted, Azizi was allowed more visual access to Dotty and Nadami, with formal introductions beginning on Feb. 12. Staff from Lincoln Park Zoo returned to lend a hand with observations. Introductions progressed quickly until all the gorillas were ultimately sharing the same space. MCZ’s animal care team will continue to monitor the new troop’s interactions closely, but so far, they report seeing “very positive, normal, and relaxed behavior — nothing unexpected.” (Azizi has quickly become a staff favorite as well.)

Western lowland gorillas are native to the Congo Basin of Africa and listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). Azizi’s transfer to MCZ was facilitated with the Western Lowland Gorilla SSP. He is genetically a very good match for Dotty and Nadami, and a future breeding recommendation is likely.

But for now, stay tuned for more updates on Azizi and the new family unit — and when you can see them for yourself in the public habitat!

Photo credit: Dianne Mohr, Lincoln Park Zoo

For faster entry: Members and pre-ticketed guests, park at West End (enter at 106th St).