“Brookfield Zoo’s Ali the Lowland Gorilla Turns One” by S.M. O’Connor

The Chicago Zoological Society (C.Z.S.) announced on Friday, May 31, 2019 that Ali (pronounced “Al-ee”) the western lowland gorilla at the Brookfield Zoo in west suburban Brookfield, Illinois, would turn one year old on Saturday, June 1, 2019 and the animal care specialists had celebrated her birthday a day early.  In a press release, the C.Z.S. stated, “Staff created tasty nutritious treats for Ali and the other members of the gorilla family and showered them with popcorn confetti, one of their favorite enrichment items, in honor of the big day.”


Figure 1 Credit: Chicago Zoological Society Caption: To celebrate the first birthday of Ali the western lowland gorilla, she; her mother. Koola; and the other western lowland gorillas at the Brookfield Zoo ate a treat and were showered with popcorn confetti, which the Chicago Zoological Society described as “one of their favorite enrichment items.”


Figure 2 Credit: Chicago Zoological Society Caption: Ali, the western lowland gorilla, turned one year old at the Brookfield Zoo on Saturday, June 1, 2019.


Figure 3 Credit: Chicago Zoological Society Caption: Ali, the western lowland gorilla, turned one year old at the Brookfield Zoo on Saturday, June 1, 2019.

Figure 4 Credit: Chicago Zoological Society Caption: Ali, the western lowland gorilla, turned one year old at the Brookfield Zoo on Saturday, June 1, 2019.

Ali’s big sister, Nora, was born in 2013.  Their father, JoJo, moved from the Lincoln Park Zoo to the Brookfield Zoo in 2012 under the recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s Western Lowland Gorilla Species Survival Plan.  Some guests witnessed the birth of Ali in the exhibit Tropic World: Africa, according to Senior Curator of Mammals Amy Roberts, as Michael McDevitt reported in the Chicago Sun-Times, last year.[1]

The C.Z.S. stated, “According to staff, Ali is one of the most independent young gorilla for her age.  She’s been known to sneak away from her mom, Koola for playdates with her dad, JoJo.  She also spends time playing with her big sister, Nora.”

Ali’s maternal grandmother, Binti Jua, became world-famous in 1996.[2] With baby Koola on her back, on August 16th she helped a 3-year-old boy who had climbed over a planter and railing and fell into the gorilla habitat. [3]   She cradled the unconscious boy and carried him fifty feet to the keeper’s access door. [4]

The C.Z.S. stated that at one year old, “Ali’s body hair has grown thicker and she is filling out and becoming more muscular.  She has most of her baby teeth and is eating solid foods, although she will continue to nurse for a few more years.  She especially likes blueberries, but her favorite treat is yogurt.”

Credit: Chicago Zoological Society Caption: This video is about the birth of Ali’s big sister, Nora, in November of 2013.

Founded to realize the vision of Edith Rockefeller McCormick (1872-1932) for a cage-less zoo in Chicagoland, the Chicago Zoological Society operates the Brookfield Zoo on land that belongs to the Forest Preserves of Cook County (formerly the Forest Preserve District of Cook County).  Essentially, the C.Z.S. has the same kind of relationship with the Forest Preserves of Cook County that the Chicago Academy of Sciences,[5] the Chicago Historical Society,[6] The Field Museum of Natural History, the John G. Shedd Aquarium, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum, and the Lincoln Park Zoological Society have with the Chicago Park District.   Chicago Tribune editorial cartoonist John T. McCutcheon (1870-1949) served as the first President of the Chicago Zoological Society from 1921 to 1948.  Architect Edwin Clark (1878-1967), who also designed two homes for Mister and Mistress James Ward Thorne,[7] a library in a third home,[8] and the first twelve Thorne Miniature Rooms,[9] designed the original buildings for Brookfield Zoo in the early 1920s and early ‘30s.[10]  The Brookfield Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (formerly the American Zoological Association).  The Brookfield Zoo opened on July 1, 1934, so it will turn eighty-five next month.

The North Gate Main Entrance of the Brookfield Zoo stands at the intersection of 31st Street, west of 1st Avenue and the Des Plaines River.  It is east of Salt Creek.  The address of the North Gate Main Entrance is 8400 31st Street, Brookfield, Illinois 60513.

The South Gate Main Entrance parking lot is adjacent to Riverside Brookfield High School.  The Regional Transportation Authority (R.T.A.) has two different public transit methods that service Brookfield Zoo at the South Gate Main Entrance.  It is a four-block-long walk north from the Hollywood Station on Metra’s B.N.S.F. Railway line, which connects Chicago to Aurora.  Consequently, in good weather, families will ride the train and get off at the Hollywood stop to walk to the zoo.  That train station is also labeled the “Zoo Stop.”  Walk north for two blocks along Hollywood Boulevard.  Then turn right to walk east for one block along Washington Avenue.  Next, turn left to walk along Golf Road.  Two Pace bus routes also have stops outside the South Gate Main Entrance: Route 304 and Route 331.  The address of the South Gate Main Entrance is 3300 Golf Road, Brookfield, Illinois 60513.  The Website is https://www.czs.org/Chicago-Zoological-Society/Home.aspx.


[1] Michael McDevitt, “Brookfield Zoo welcomes new baby gorilla,” Chicago Sun-Times, 7 June, 2018 (https://chicago.suntimes.com/2018/6/7/18367258/brookfield-zoo-welcomes-new-baby-gorilla) Accessed 06/03/19

[2] Douglas Deuchler and Carla W. Owens,  Images of America: Brookfield Zoo and the Chicago Zoological Society. Charleston, SC; Chicago, IL; Portsmouth, NH; and San Francisco, CA: Arcadia Publishing (2009), p. 88

[3] Deuchler & Owens, p. 88

[4] Deuchler & Owens, p. 88

[5] The Chicago Academy of Sciences operates the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Lincoln Park.

[6] The Chicago Historical Society operates the Chicago Historical Society operates the Chicago History Museum in Lincoln Park.

[7] Susen Taras, “Thorne, Narcissa Niblack.” Rima Lunin Scultz and Adele Hast, editors. Women Building Chicago 1790-1990: A Biographical Dictionary. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press (2001), p. 880

See also Sally Sexton Kalmbach, Mrs. Thorne’s World of Miniatures.  Chicago and New Orleans: Ampersand, Inc. (2014), pages 33, 42, 43, 114, and 115

[8] Kalmbach, p. 33

[9] Kalmbach, p. 47

[10] John T. McCutcheon, Drawn from Memory: The Autobiography of John T. McCutcheon.  Indianapolis and New York City: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc. (1950), p. 423

See also Andrea Friederici Ross, Let the Lions Roar! The Evolution of Brookfield Zoo.  Chicago Zoological Society (1997), pages 18, 20-23, 25, 39, 95, 96, 98, and 228

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