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Gorilla Family Ties – Kakinga’s Contribution

Jun 11, 2013

Zoo Silverback Gorilla and His Line of Gentle Giants

*This article is from the Summer 2011 issue of the Calgary Zoo's Wild Life member magazine and has been updated as of May 16, 2016 with the passing of Kakinga.

Born at Jersey Zoo in the UK in 1978, the Calgary Zoo’s silverback Kakinga is the son of a famous gorilla dad. His father, silverback Jambo became an international star in August 1986 when a five-year-old boy fell into the Jersey Zoo's gorilla habitat and lost consciousness. Home video captured Jambo placing himself between the unconscious boy and the rest of the troop. When the boy regained consciousness and started to cry, Jambo and his troop retreated.

Watch the home video of Jambo

Kakinga, who shares his father’s calm and gentle nature, is a valuable member of the Gorilla Species Survival Program – a cooperative managed breeding program among accredited North American zoos – not only because of his amiable personality, but also because his genetics have added valuable diversity to the North American population.

Although the Calgary Zoo has had gorillas for more than 50 years, Kakinga has been the most successful silverback in that time producing nine offspring with four different mates since he became the troop leader in 1993. His surviving lineage - five sons and two daughters - are important members of the Species Survival Program today. Two of his sons may soon be considered to lead troops of their own – a credit to the example set by their father and the leadership skills they learned from him as youngsters. And so, through the management provided by the Gorilla Species Survival Program, the legacy of these two gentle giants has a chance to live on in the next generation of gorillas.

Edit: We are deeply saddened to share that silverback gorilla, Kakinga, passed away May 14, 2016 at the age of 37. Often called the zoo’s gentle giant, Kakinga was an exceptional silverback; a kind, loving, protective and diligent leader. *

Kakinga’s Offspring:

  • Mbundi, male, born Jan 1993
  • Ntondo, male, born Feb 1993
  • Nsabi, male, born Jul 1995
  • Jawara, male, born Feb 1998
  • Zwalani, male, born Jan 2000
  • Barika, female, born Oct 2000
  • Yewande, female, born May 2008
  • Kimani, female, born March 9, 2016

From the Summer 2011 issue of the Calgary Zoo’s Wild Life member magazine.