She’s a “spunky little beauty with quite a personality.” She’s also “cautious yet curious.” Who is she? N’djia (In-GEE-uh), the 24-year-old western lowland gorilla who made her public debut at the L.A. Zoo’s Campo Gorilla Reserve last month.
In early June, N’djia transferred to the L.A. Zoo from the San Diego Zoo, where she lived with her half-brother Paul Don, his mate Jessica, and their three-year-old offspring Denny. “Because she comes to us from another family group situation, she will have gained valuable maternal skills for raising her own offspring,” comments Senior Animal Keeper Nancy Bunn. “This will be a huge benefit.”
Western lowland gorillas are critically endangered, and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) makes breeding recommendations every year or two through Species Survival Plan (SSP) programs. The goal is to look at the long-term survival of gorillas in human care. N’djia was transferred to the L.A. Zoo to be paired with silverback Kelly. Genetically, these two are a good match and any offspring they produce will contribute to the genetic diversity within the Zoo’s gorilla group and the gorilla population as a whole.
“N’djia moved into Campo on June 12 and immediately started assimilating really well,” Bunn adds. “Gorillas are much more subtle than chimps are, so you won’t see the grooming and vocalizing that happens when you introduce chimps. Kelly took an immediate interest in her. N’djia was curious but cautious. Kelly has shown patience and gentleness with her. This has paid off—she is now comfortable being next to him.”
Describing N’djia’s interactions with other Campo Gorilla Reserve females, Bunn says, “Rapunzel took on the role of protector, taking N’djia under her wing, while Evelyn has been standoffish. The good news is, she recently was observed sitting next to N’djia while on exhibit.”
Bunn continues, “N’djia is a little beauty with quite the personality. Early on, keepers noticed her spunky nature. I'm sure this captivating new female will strike a chord with our visitors—hopefully inspiring them to learn more about gorillas in the wild and conservation.”