Zoo Atlanta Honored for Outstanding Gorilla Program

October 3, 2011

Zoo Atlanta Honored for Outstanding Gorilla Program

Congratulations to our partner Zoo Atlanta, which just received the prestigious Bean Award for its outstanding gorilla program. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums gives this award to member programs that have demonstrated excellence in reproductive success, research, conservation, husbandry and management. The award was announced at the AZA's recent annual conference, held at Zoo Atlanta.

We are especially glad that Zoo Atlanta's work with gorillas has been recognized because in the mid-1980s, during the time when former Director Terry Maple, Ph.D. was renovating the zoo and moving famous silverback Willie B. from a cage to a natural setting, Maple also offered the Fossey Fund office space so we could move our administrative and fundraising headquarters out of a supporter's home. We have enjoyed our Atlanta offices – in a former orangutan house – ever since.

This year, 2011, marks the 50th anniversary of Willie B's arrival at Zoo Atlanta and the launch of their gorilla program, which Maple greatly improved. Now, the zoo houses the nation's largest collection of western lowland gorillas. They also have the second largest number of captive-born, mother-reared gorillas among AZA member zoos, including the only twins; are committed to housing and managing male gorillas; and have an impressive legacy of research and leadership in the Great Ape Heart Project. Our Pat and Forest McGrath Chair of Research and Conservation, Tara Stoinski, Ph.D., also works for Zoo Atlanta, studying their gorillas as well as the wild gorillas followed by our Karisoke Research Center in Rwanda.

We look forward to more years of partnership with Zoo Atlanta and their prize-winning gorilla program.