45-year-old Zoo Knoxville gorilla retires, moves to Atlanta with mom

Local News

Knoxville, Tenn. (WATE) – Machi, a Western lowland gorilla who has lived at Zoo Knoxville since 2013, has retired to Atlanta.

Machi left Zoo Knoxville on March 29, to join a group of senior gorillas in a home designed to meet the needs of aging primates and their specialized care. Machi will be reunited with her mother Choomba, as well as a male named Ozzie and another female named Kuchi, all of whom she has lived with before.

The gorilla has degenerative arthritis that zoo officials said is becoming increasingly severe, limiting her mobility and making it difficult for the 45-year-old to interact with the highly active group of young gorillas at Zoo Knoxville. 

“She began avoiding social interaction and was becoming withdrawn,” Zoo Knoxville said in a release. “Knowing her quality of life could be enhanced by joining a group of similarly-aged gorillas in a living space designed with age in mind, Zoo Knoxville and Zoo Atlanta agreed she could benefit from Atlanta’s expertise in caring for geriatrics.” 

It is a return home for Machi in a way. She lived at Zoo Atlanta before coming to Knoxville on the recommendation of the Western Lowland Gorilla Species Survival Plan.

“Providing Machi with the care and environment that she needs at this stage of life is paramount,” said Lisa New, president and CEO of Zoo Knoxville.  “It was a decision we made with a great deal of consideration with our colleagues in Atlanta. Their team has decades of experience and habitats specifically designed for geriatric care and a social group where she can thrive, which is what we all want for her.”   

In 2015, Machi gave birth to Ubuntu, a rambunctious young male who will remain in Knoxville.  Ubuntu is being closely monitored during this transition.

Western lowland gorillas are critically endangered. Native to the rainforests of equatorial Africa, their population continues to decline due to habitat loss, poaching, commercial hunting and outbreaks of disease.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

WATE 6 On Your Side Twitter