The Gorilla Family Harambe Left Behind
Along with the 10 other gorillas at the Cincinnati zoo, Harambe had a blood-relative family, which included one brother and 14 half siblings
Ten other gorillas resided at the Cincinnati Zoo with Harambe, and animal psychologist and the co-founder, president and director of research for The Gorilla Foundation, Dr. Penny Patterson, PhD, told PEOPLE that these animals will need “emotional support” and time to adapt to this sudden lost.
“I would explain the loss if they didn’t see it [happen],” she said. “They understand English. Understanding that he was a great loss to everyone, and that he was a hero. That’s what he was.”
To see what an impact this 17-year-old gorilla had on his species, you just need to look at the impressive extended family (both blood relatives and zoo mates) he left behind. Harambe, along with these primates, was a member of an endangered species estimated to have a population of around 175,000 left in the wild. Their number continues to dwindle due to poaching, deforestation and diseases. Harambe was one of just 765 western lowland gorillas living in zoos worldwide.
Below, meet the gorillas who will be missing Harambe the most.
Harambe lived with 10 other gorillas at the Cincinnati Zoo, two of which resided in the same enclosure.
Chewie & Mara
Chewie and Mara were the females paired with Harambe when the silverback arrived in 2014. The two gorillas were chosen for the young newcomer because they both have experience living with different males. At 17, Harambe had not yet reached breeding maturity when he died. Residing with Chewie and Mara was seen as “training” for the male, so he could become comfortable in a leadership position.
Asha is one of Harambe’s half-siblings born from the same father (Moja) in 2002. Like Harambe, Asha was born at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Texas and moved to the Cincinnati Zoo as part of the Species Survival Program.
Gladys is another one of Harambe’s half-siblings residing at the Cincinnati Zoo. Similar to Asha, she was born at the Gladys Porter Zoo to father Moja and was later moved to her current Ohio home. Gladys was born in 2013 and was raised by human surrogates. She was later introduced to M’Linzi at the Cincinnati Zoo, who took on the role of surrogate gorilla mom.
M’Linzi is the mom of the group. The 33-year-old gorilla gave birth to Mara and served as a surrogate for Gladys. M’Linzi was born at the Cincinnati Zoo in December 1982.
Jomo is the other (and now only) male silverback western lowland gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo. He lives in an enclosure separate from Harambe with Mona, Elle, Gladys, Samantha, M’Linzi, Asha and Anju. Born in 1991 at the Toronto Zoo and later moved to Ohio, Jomo is the father of three gorillas so far.
Mona was born at the Cincinnati Zoo to parents Asha and Jomo in 2014. Her name Mondika (Mona for short) comes from an area in the Republic of Congo that is home to many western lowland gorillas.
Samantha is one of the first gorillas born at the Cincinnati Zoo, arriving on Jan. 23, 1970. At 46, she is the oldest gorilla currently living at the zoo, and she has earned the nickname Grand Old Lady.
Anju was born at the the Pittsburgh Zoo in 2001 and moved to Cincinnati in 2012. The female recently gave birth to the zoo’s 50th gorilla baby, Elle, in August 2015.
Just shy of a year old, Elle is the baby of the bunch. She was born at the Cincinnati Zoo to parents Anju and Jomo on Aug. 29, 2015, and was the 50th live gorilla birth at the zoo.
Gladys Porter Zoo
Along with his two half-siblings at the Cincinnati Zoo, Harambe has 12 other half-siblings and a full brother.
According to the Gorilla Passion Project, Harambe was born on May 27, 1999 at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Texas to parents Moja and Kayla. Both of his parents are now deceased. Moja, originally from the Metro Miami Zoo, died suddenly at the Gladys Porter Zoo to heart disease. Kayla died in 2002, due to chlorine poisoning, at the Texas zoo as well.
Harambe’s one full sibling, a brother named Makoko, died in the same 2002 chlorine poisoning incident as Kayla. In January 2002, a container of dry chlorine tablets was accidentally placed near a space heater in a building housing 11 gorillas, reports The Brownsville Herald. The tablets accidentally became wet, creating toxic fumes that ended up killing four gorillas: Kayla, Makoko and two of Harambe’s half-siblings, Caesar and Uzuri.
Two of Harambe’s other half-siblings are also deceased: Pearl who died of unknown causes before she turned 1 and an unnamed baby who was miscarried.
Born in 1998, N’zinga is Harambe’s oldest living half-sibling. She resides at the Gladys Porter Zoo, where he was born, with four more of Harambe’s half-siblings: Bangori (Born 2004), Samantha (Born 2005), Margaret (Born 2007), and Tracy James (Born 2012).
The two remaining half-siblings reside at zoos other than Cincinnati and Gladys Porter. Iwa “Pele” Rafiki, born in 2002, currently lives at Tampa Busch Gardens, and Megan, born 2005, lives at the Dallas Zoo.