The Louisville Zoo’s Gorilla Forest recently became home to 25-year-old female gorilla Kweli (pronounced "QUAY lee"), bringing the total number of gorillas to 12.
Kweli, who was born at the Cincinnati Zoo, is mother to 11-year-old blackback Kicho, who also resides in the Louisville Zoo’s Gorilla Forest. Kweli’s name means "truth" in Swahili.
"Kweli was an excellent mother to her three offspring," Gorilla Forest Supervisor Roby Elsner said. "She was also a high-ranking and well-socialized female in Cincinnati, which is why the Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP) recommended she come to Louisville."
Elsner said the goal is to utilize Kweli’s social skills and background so she can bond with adult female gorillas Mia Moja, 19, and Paki, 19, for their future introduction to young silverback Mshindi, 20.
"Testosterone-charged males like Mshindi who are in their prime at this age often need to be introduced to three or more females who can effectively act as a cohesive unit to handle a silverback’s rambunctiousness," Elsner said.
Kweli is currently housed with Mia Moja, Paki and Timmy, a 49-year-old silverback who is the leader of the group. Timmy is currently the oldest male gorilla in North America.
Visitors can recognize Kweli by her short, pudgy stature and a slightly hanging lower lip that reveals its inner pink lining.