ASHEBORO, NC – The North Carolina Zoo is excited to welcome Dembe, a five-year-old male gorilla, to the Zoo’s existing troop. Dembe, a member of the endangered Western lowland gorilla species, comes from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He was born there on August 14, 2012 — the same year and month as both Bomassa and Apollo, two of the North Carolina Zoo’s current resident male gorillas were born.

Considerable planning went into smoothing the transition for Dembe to the North Carolina Zoo. Willie Campbell, an experienced gorilla care specialist at the North Carolina Zoo, traveled to Colorado earlier this week to accompany Dembe on the flight to North Carolina later in the week.

“It is always so exciting to welcome a new animal to our natural habitat park. I am honored to have been chosen for this task,” Campbell said. He will spend a couple of days working with Cheyenne Mountain Zoo gorilla care specialists and getting to know Dembe.

Dembe’s traveling entourage includes the North Carolina Zoo’s Willie Campbell and Dina Bredahl, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo gorilla specialist. Bredahl will spend a few days in Asheboro helping Dembe settle in.

The Species Survival Plan recommended the North Carolina Zoo for Dembe due to the Zoo’s successful introduction of a new silverback, 34-year-old Mosuba to Apollo and Bomassa when they were not quite three years old. Mosuba’s calm and laidback demeanor makes him an excellent match for Dembe. The North Carolina Zoo was also chosen because of Rosie, a 43- year-old female gorilla in the Zoo’s troop. Rosie has a history of taking youngsters, who are not her offspring, under her wing. Rosie became an excellent female role model to Hadari, another young gorilla in the Zoo’s troop who is now eight years old.

When Dembe arrives at the North Carolina Zoo’s veterinary hospital, Rosie will be waiting to welcome him in a quarantine area. Animal experts feel it is in Dembe’s best interest to have a companion while he goes through the required 30-day quarantine period. It also allows him time to meet and hopefully bond with Rosie. Having this relationship will help him when he moves to the gorilla habitat and begins his introduction into the larger troop.

Gorilla care specialists expect Rosie and Dembe to leave quarantine in late October. There will then be a period of introductions— to his new habitat and to the other gorillas— before Dembe can be seen by Zoo guests later this fall.


About the North Carolina Zoo

At the North Carolina Zoo, we celebrate nature. As the world’s largest natural habitat zoo, we inspire a lifelong curiosity about animals for the hundreds of thousands of people who visit our Zoo each year. Our dedicated team of experts provides exceptional, compassionate care for the more than 1,600 animals and 52,000 plants that call our park home. We also lead efforts locally and globally to protect wildlife and wild places because we believe nature’s diversity is critical for our collective future. The North Carolina Zoo invites all of our guests to witness the majesty of the wild in the heart of North Carolina and welcome everyone to join in our mission to protect nature’s diversity. Visit to begin your life-changing journey.


About the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state’s natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. NCDNCR's mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the state’s history, conserving the state’s natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development.

NCDNCR includes 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, two science museums, three aquariums and Jennette’s Pier, 39 state parks and recreation areas, the N.C.  Zoo, the nation's first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, along with the Division of Land and Water Stewardship. For more information, please call (919) 807-7300 or visit