Where do the zoo gorillas come from?

Nearly all the gorillas living in zoos today are western gorillas. Until the 1970s, many thousands of gorillas died because young animals were captured for zoos. As a rule, several group members were killed in order to seize a single young gorilla. In 1976 the gorilla was included in Appendix I of CITES and it was not allowed to import them from the wild any more. At that time, out of 498 gorillas in captivity, 403 had been born in the wild. At the end of 1991, more zoo gorillas were already born in captivity than in the wild.

On December 22, 1956, Columbus Zoo in Ohio, USA, registered the first gorilla birth in captivity. The female infant was called Colo. She was not raised by her mother but by humans. During the first decades of gorilla breeding in zoos, mothers rejected their babies frequently: they did not nurse them, and sometimes they even mistreated them. In such a case the babies were bottle-fed. Nowadays, most of the mothers take care of their offspring.