Minister Opens Gorilla Exhibition

Minister Opens Gorilla Exhibition

Victoria Minister for Environment and Climate Change Ryan Smith

New Gorilla Exhibition For Werribee Zoo

Victor P Taffa

Werribee Open Range Zoo’s spectacular new gorilla exhibit, Gorillas Calling, was officially opened by the Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Ryan Smith, today.

The new $3.6 Million, 6,000 sqm, exhibit is the new home for three Western Lowland Gorillas silverback Motaba and his two sons, Yakini and Ganyeka.

Werribee Open Range Zoo currently has an annual visitation of more than 300,000 visitors.

The arrival of the gorillas will grow this figure to 400,000 over the next couple of years.

“Since the free entry policy for children was introduced on July 1 this year, there has been record visitation for Zoos Victoria of more than 610,000.”



“At Werribee alone, almost 27,000 kids aged between four to fifteen years old have enjoyed visiting the zoo in that time, and across Zoos Victoria, almost 120,000. This growth we hope will continue into the future.

Mr. Smith said the new exhibit was important for both the regional gorilla breeding program and for Zoos Victoria’s mission to increase the awareness of gorillas on the brink of extinction in Africa.

“This impressive new exhibit will not only be a wonderful new home for these magnificent bachelor males, but we hope it will also inspire many visitors to take action to help save their wild cousins.

“This exhibit is an important regional holding facility for bachelor males who may be called upon for breeding at other zoos in the future.

“While it is unlikely that Motaba will be required for more breeding as his bloodline is well represented in the breeding program, Yakini and Ganyeka may be needed in future.”

The three gorillas formed a bachelor group at Melbourne Zoo following the success of the breeding program which has produced six offspring in the past two decades. There can be only one silverback per family group, hence the need for a separate bachelor group. Moving out of the birth group is natural for young males.

The gorillas were relocated to Werribee as their Melbourne Zoo exhibit was due for redevelopment. It was also known a larger exhibit would be required when Yakini and Ganyeka grew into silverbacks in a couple of years.