Congo Gorilla Forest
20 years of Congo
In 1999 we opened Congo Gorilla Forest at the Bronx Zoo. The award-winning exhibit shows visitors how we help save wildlife in the work that we do here at the zoo and in nature. It remains one of our most popular exhibits for good reason, offering an up-close look at gorillas, mandrills, red river hogs, and more. Explore our history below and help us celebrate this 20 year milestone.
This exhibit is about people — people getting involved. People learning about conservation. People taking action to protect and give a future to some of our most beloved animal species
WCS scientists started studying mountain gorillas in the field in 1959 and bringing that work to zoo visitors was, and remains, an important part of our mission. Congo Gorilla Forest was built as a groundbreaking, participatory exhibit, connecting field work to the work happening at the Bronx Zoo. Whether watching the animals on exhibit, or participating in an education class in the unique program space, we have inspired countless visitors over the past 20 years.
Inside Congo Gorilla Forest
When you walk into Congo Gorilla Forest you’re immediately immersed into the African rainforest. No matter how many times you’ve watched the gorillas, guenons, or mandrills, there’s always something new to discover.
Congo Gorilla Forest spans 6.5 acres. The exhibit trail you walk down is approximately ⅓ of a mile long.
Currently, Congo Gorilla Forest is home to 20 western lowland gorillas.
Nearly 400 species of plants are displayed in the exhibit, ranging from 50 ft tall trees to orchids.
Meet the Gorillas
The Stars of Congo Gorilla Forest
We’ve had many births in Congo Gorilla Forest over the last 20 years, frequently as part of an Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan program. One of the stars of the exhibit, Ernie the silver-backed gorilla, successfully sired offspring in 2014 and 2015. Three males, Lincoln, Chase, and Kidogo Njemba, and two females, Kamara and Mjukuu.
These were exciting additions for us, because it highlights the long and successful history of the exhibit! The lineage of these five youngsters can be traced back to Timmy, one of the original silverback gorillas in the exhibit, and Triska, the first Bronx-born gorilla to reproduce.
Today you can see Ernie, his offspring, and the rest of our gorillas on exhibit in Congo Gorilla Forest. Stay for a while to observe the family dynamics at play between the youngsters, females, and Ernie on your next visit.
How We Got Here
First Field Study
New York Zoological Society (now WCS) conservationist Dr. George Schaller begins the first field study of wild gorillas, helping to debunk the myth that gorillas are aggressive animals and inspiring research by scientists such as Dian Fossey.
The Bronx Zoo opens Congo Gorilla Forest, at the time the largest African rainforest ever built. The exhibit focuses on the Central African rainforests, which are the second largest on earth and features western lowland gorillas, okapis, red river hogs, mandrills, Wolf’s guenons, pythons, and more
Three western lowland gorillas, Kamara, Chase, and Kidogo Njemba, joined two other juveniles, Mjukuu and Lincoln, on exhibit. Ernie, our easily identifiable silverback gorilla, sired all five gorillas as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan.
Boots on the Ground
WCS leads a team of more than 50 researchers to complete the most comprehensive survey of western lowland gorillas and central chimpanzees in history, covering 5,400 miles of forest, all on foot, from the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean to the banks of the Congo River.
The Bronx Zoo celebrates the 20th Anniversary of Congo Gorilla Forest. Help us celebrate the last 20 years of the exhibit by sharing your photos and videos on social media. Tag @BronxZoo and use #CongoTwenty to share the memories!