Western Lowland Gorilla Kayin Joins Saint Louis Zoo

ST LOUIS, MO (STLPress.News) Male western lowland gorilla Kayin (Kay’-in) arrived safely at the Saint Louis Zoo last week, completing a move that was based on a recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).  This move was made through the AZA Species Survival Plan (SSP) for western lowland gorillas, a conservation program that manages a genetically healthy population of this species in North American zoos.

Kayin is a 7-year-old male gorilla that was previously living in a family troop at the Buffalo Zoo in New York.  He was born at the Buffalo Zoo in 2016 and has lived with his parents, aunts, and siblings.  At 7 years old, Kayin is reaching the age when free-living male gorillas will typically leave their family group in the wild in search of a new bachelor group or a mating partner.

“Having the chance to work with Kayin’s keepers in Buffalo and St. Louis has really allowed the Primate Care Team to learn and adjust with Kayin.  Everyone has Kayin’s best interests at heart, and seeing the hard work and collaboration behind his smooth transfer from Buffalo Zoo to the Saint Louis Zoo was inspiring.  Both communities share in the excitement of Kayin’s arrival,” said Shannon Santangelo, Primate Keeper, Saint Louis Zoo.

Kayin will be joining a bachelor group at the Saint Louis Zoo, which includes male gorillas Joe, Bakari, and Zachary.  Adult male gorillas are also known as “silverbacks.” Bachelor groups are groups of silverbacks and young adult male gorillas that live and travel together and are a type of social group commonly found in the wild.  Kayin is currently in areas at the Zoo that are not viewable to guests.  Guests can keep a look out later this summer for when he will be introduced to the outdoor habitats.

The Saint Louis Zoo has a long history with the AZA SSP for western lowland gorillas.  The Jungle of the Apes team pioneered forming the first bachelor group of western lowland gorillas, along with the first successful integration of two bachelor groups.  Although western lowland gorillas are the most common of four subspecies of gorillas, they are critically endangered and are facing the threat of complete extinction in the wild.  The bachelor group at the Saint Louis Zoo is critical for the species’ survival; It prepares male gorillas for the possibility of leading a family in the future.

The Zoo supports western lowland gorillas through the AZA SSP for the western lowland gorilla and through the Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute Center for the Conservation of Congo Apes.

About the Saint Louis Zoo

Home to over 16,000 animals, representing nearly 500 species, the Saint Louis Zoo is recognized worldwide for its innovative approaches to animal care and management, wildlife conservation, research, and education.  One of the few free zoos in the nation, the Saint Louis Zoo is the most-visited attraction in the region.  Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the Saint Louis Zoo is part of an elite group of institutions that meet the highest standards in animal care as well as provide fun, safe, and educational family experiences.  The Saint Louis Zoo and the other AZA-accredited institutions collectively dedicate millions of dollars annually to support scientific research, conservation, and education programs.  Visit https://stlzoo.org/.