Smithsonian Journeys Dispatches

Meet the Zoo’s Gorillas

Kibibi means "little lady" in Swahili. Photo - National Zoological Park.

Kibibi means "little lady" in Swahili. Photo - National Zoological Park.

At the Smithsonian's National Zoological Park, our family of Western Lowland Gorillas is growing. Its newest member, Kibibi, born at the zoo on January, 10, 2009, can be found climbing and playing near her mother, 28-year-old Mandara.

Kibibi, who is getting bigger on grapes, bananas, and sweet potatoes, is known for her inquisitive nature. She spends her time hanging out with her acrobatic brother Kojo, but always seems to have her mom in sight. Gorillas are fascinating creatures. Whether you're watching them at the Zoo, or doing some gorilla trekking on our upcoming adventure in Uganda and Rwanda, there are some simple rules for making the most of your experience.


A mountain gorilla finds a meal in the Ugandan jungle.

First, try not to stare, as a gorilla may see this as aggression and assume you want to fight. Instead, do what the gorillas do - check them out from under lowered brows and glance away quickly as your eyes meet. To avoid intimidating a gorilla, crouch down and make yourself smaller. Try to treat gorillas as you would a small child - avoid sudden movements and loud noises.

For more information on gorillas, see the Zoo's primate page, or check out our interview with our Mammal Curator, Kris Helgen.

Ready for an adventure? Click for more information on our Uganda and Rwanda Gorilla Safari. Limited space is still available.

What's the most amazing thing about primates? Please share!