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Zoo News

Zoo News

Dallas Zoo’s popular gorilla, Patrick, moving to South Carolina
Sep 23, 2013

Special farewell weekend includes $5 zoo admission              

It’s time to say “see you later” to Patrick, the beloved Western lowland gorilla who has lived at the Dallas Zoo for 18 years. The silverback soon will be moving to the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden in Columbia, S.C. (

Although guests and staff will be saddened by 23-year-old Patrick’s departure, the zoo will now be able to move forward with introducing its two newest male gorillas, Shana and Zola, to current male residents B’wenzi and Juba, forming the zoo’s largest bachelor troop. Housing bachelor groups is important to the Gorilla Species Survival Plan, a national cooperative management program, and the Dallas Zoo is a dedicated participant in that effort to ensure the continuation of this remarkable species.

To help visitors say goodbye to the longtime favorite, the zoo is hosting a “We’ll Miss Ya, Patrick!” celebration Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 28-29, with zoo admission just $5 for everyone 3 and older. (Children 2 and under are free.) Other special activities each day, all free with the $5 zoo admission, include:

– Mini-cupcakes for guests at 12:45 p.m. at the Gorilla Trail

– Special treat presentations for Patrick at 1 p.m.

– A 2:30 p.m. gorilla keeper presentation

– A going-away card to sign for Patrick and our staff

– Zoo fans are also being asked to share their favorite memories and photos of Patrick on the zoo’s Facebook and Instagram pages.


Patrick was born April 13, 1990, at the Bronx Zoo. Due to maternal neglect, before his first birthday he was moved to the Toronto Zoo to be hand-raised with another male the same age. Those two came to Dallas when they were 5 years old and were integrated into a small troop of 1 silverback and 2 females. Upon nearing maturity, both were removed from the troop to form a bachelor group together.

The zoo has tried for years to create social relationships for Patrick, with little success. Two separate female groups were introduced to him, but his responses ranged from indifference to aggression. In November 2011, zoo experts tried to introduce Patrick to the second group of females, bringing in Madge and Shanta, who had been raised in a large troop in Cincinnati. The process met with some success, with Patrick tolerating the sight of the females in the gorilla building and habitat. However, the relationships never progressed to a stable social grouping.

“We have tried for years to socialize Patrick with other gorillas,” said Lynn Kramer, D.V.M., vice president of animal operations for the Dallas Zoo. “It’s become clear that he prefers to live a solitary life. This move will allow Patrick to continue to thrive while creating an opportunity for our four remaining males to form a cohesive bachelor group.”

The regal silverback now weighs about 430 pounds. He is extremely intelligent and uses tools remarkably well. He interacts well with zookeepers and the public, and often is the subject of zookeeper presentations about gorillas. He is gregarious and enjoys training sessions with keepers.

Patrick’s personality has made him a visitor favorite. When he first came to the Dallas Zoo, he would choose to sit close to the habitat windows, tapping on the glass and pointing at visitor’s painted toenails.  He still interacts closely with visitors in the Jake L. Hamon Gorilla Conservation Research Center, and more photos may well have been taken of Patrick than any other zoo resident.

After Patrick’s departure – a date hasn’t yet been set — the six gorillas at the Dallas Zoo will be:

  • Madge, born June 17, 1981, at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.
  • Shanta, Madge’s daughter, born Feb. 26, 1997, at Cincinnati  Zoo & Botanical Garden.
  • B’wenzi, born June 11, 2002, at Toledo Zoological Gardens.
  • Juba (lives with B’wenzi in a bachelor group), born Jan. 6, 2002, at Toledo Zoological Gardens.
  • Shana, born Sept. 1, 2002, at the Bronx Zoo.
  • Zola, half-brother to Shana, born Nov. 1, 2002, at the Bronx Zoo. (He’s the star of the “break-dancing gorilla” video on YouTube, which has been viewed more than 3 million times. He was really just playing in a puddle, but people enjoyed watching him after the Calgary Zoo staff set his moves to music.)


The Dallas Zoo works with the SSP to place and breed endangered animals in accredited zoos across the nation. Western lowland gorillas inhabit the thick rainforests and swamps of Africa. Due to poaching, habitat loss and disease, their numbers in the wild have fallen by more than 60 percent in the past 20 years, experts believe.


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