Lincoln Park Zoo (L.P.Z.) named two male western lowland gorilla babies in honor of conservation efforts, the L.P.Z. announced on Thursday, July 18, 2019. The first-born male, born to Rollie (age twenty-two) on Sunday, May 12, 2019 had been named Mondika (pronounced Mon-dee-kah); and the second-born male, born to Bana (age twenty-four) on June 12, 2019, had been named Djeke (Jek-ay). [In 2012, a male named Kwan (then twenty-three-years-old) impregnated both Rollie (then sixteen) and Bana. Rollie’s mother is Kowali, which makes Rollie a second-generation resident of Lincoln Park Zoo and her children third-generation residents.] The names are an allusion to the Lincoln Park Zoo’s work in the Goualougo Triangle in the Republic of the Congo, not to be confused with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire). Kwan is now a silverback and the head of the gorilla troop at the Regenstein Center for African Apes.
Credit: Julia Fuller, Lincoln Park Zoo Caption: This video is about the birth of Rollie’s infant (later named Mondika).
In 1999, lead researcher David Morgan, Ph.D., of the L.P.Z.’s Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes, has been stationed in the Goualougo Triangle, the sole ecosystem in the world where chimpanzees share territory with gorillas (in the wild). “I am absolutely thrilled the gorilla infants have received such meaningful names and can connect people to critical conservation work,” stated Dr. Morgan. “The names pay homage to the 20th anniversary of the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project and the zoo’s commitment to applied conservation research aimed at safeguarding wild ape populations.”
The L.P.Z. stated, “Previously, the Goualougo and Djeke Triangles were pristine and never exploited for timber, despite no official protected status. However, in 2013, with the collaboration of local stakeholders including the government of the Republic of the Congo, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Congolaise Industrielle des Boi (CIB), and GTAP, the Goualougo Triangle was annexed into the Nouabale-Ndoki National Park by presidential decree. The Djeke Triangle was granted elevated protected status as a conservation set aside in 2004.” [The L.P.Z. staff frequently refers to the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project by the abbreviation G.T.A.P.]
Djeke pays tribute to the Djeke Triangle which compromises a majority of the remaining Intact Forest Landscape (IFL) and is the longest-running gorilla research site in Western Equatorial Africa. Given its location along the international border of two National Parks, in addition Mondika, it is strategically, environmentally, and socially a critical area to the Sangha Trinational World Heritage Site.
Mondika is a unique field site with three habituated groups of ages and is a developing great ape tourism site. In 2015, WCS requested GTAP lead the research, health, and conservation activities at Mondika, which it has been doing since that time.
L.P.Z. animal care staff and researchers named Rollie’s infant Mondika. John Hart, a life trustee, named Bana’s infant Djeke. Hart has sat on the Board of Trustees since 1967 and feels a personal connection to great apes, having spent time assisting with tracking efforts of mountain gorillas in Rwanda.
The L.P.Z. stated, “With multiple habituated groups of gorillas and chimpanzees in both the Goualougo and Djeke Triangles, it presents a unique opportunity to better understand how environmental and human influence, such as tourism and logging, impact apes’ well-being. Identifying and mitigating identified risks to the great ape populations have been the core focus of GTAP and WCS conservation activities.”
Scientists with the Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes monitor great ape populations, and are conducting long-term research on the impact of logging on the ecosystem. In July a study published in Frontiers in Forests and Global Change highlighted the findings of G.TA.P. The L.P.Z. stated, “The study shows logging road construction had accelerated over the last two decades and has led to dramatic decline of IFLs and increased risk of aimed at elephants.”
A multi-year study published in Biological Conservation on November 27, 2017, shared insights into logging operations on ape populations before, during, and after the extraction of timber. The L.P.Z. stated, “Chimpanzees were slower to return to exploited forests while gorillas were found to return to logged areas, perhaps making use of the natural regrowth of terrestrial ground vegetation. Crucial to the protection of the returning ape groups are ecoguards who protect the newly-accessible forest due to human disturbance.”
Credit: Julia Fuller, Lincoln Park Zoo Caption: David Morgan, Ph.D., of the Lincoln Park Zoo’s Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes is the head researcher for the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project. He speaks here about a study conducted on the impact of logging operations on chimpanzee and gorilla populations in the Republic of the Congo.
Founded in 1868, Lincoln Park Zoo celebrated the 150th anniversary of its foundation last year. It is located in the Chicago Park District’s Lincoln Park, south of Fullerton Avenue and west of the South Lagoon. Marlin Perkins (1905-1986), Director of the Lincoln Park Zoo from 1945 to 1962, was the most famous zoo director in America, if not the whole world. His successor, Dr. Lester E. Fisher, was Director of the Lincoln Park Zoo from 1962 to 1993. The gorilla Bushman, estimated to be the most valuable zoo animal in the world, lived at Lincoln Park Zoo until his death in 1951 and his body is now on display at The Field Museum of Natural History. A private, non-profit organization, the Lincoln Park Zoological Society, manages the zoo on land owned by the Chicago Park District. It is open 365 days a year.