Gorilla JoJo heads to suburbs; son gets bachelor pad

March 22, 2012 4:19:13 AM PDT
Popular silverback gorilla JoJo will leave the city next month and head to the suburbs to start a family. Or at least that's the hope.

"JoJo will actually be moving on ... but not too far away moving to Brookfield Zoo and he is going to be a father again. He will hopefully be breeding with females at Brookfield Zoo which is great news for JoJo because he's a fantastic dad," Maureen Leahy, curator of primates, said.

At 31 years of age, zookeepers say the 480-pound JoJo is still up for the job.

Two females will also leave Lincoln Park Zoo as part of the breeding program, going to Kansas City and Columbus, Ohio, zoos.

That means two young male gorillas who were raised in separate habitats -- Amari, 7; and Azizi, 8 -- at Lincoln Park Zoo will be swinging bachelors on their own. Azizi is JoJo's son.

"They've already met and we've seen great play behavior and we're sure they're going to get along really good," Leahy said.

In early summer, two other young apes will join the bachelor pad at Lincoln Park Zoo, just like in the wild.

"Very natural. We're creating a bachelor group with these boys just before they hit puberty. So, so it's a natural progression," Leahy said.

Visitors at Lincoln Park Zoo have mixed emotion about the changes in the Great Ape House. How do the gorillas feel?

"We have to consider that these are emotional animals with strong social bonds but these are natural progressions within a gorilla's life and the excitement at the other end will be enough to keep them busy," Leahy said.

A farewell birthday party will be held for Jojo on April 10 at Lincoln Park Zoo.