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Father and son gorillas share playful ‘milestone’ at zoo. See ‘super sweet’ video

Miami Herald
A special bonding moment between a gorilla father and son was caught on camera by a Georgia zoo.

The father, Willie B. Jr., and his son, Willie B. III, were spotted enjoying their “first ever play session” in the indoor section of their habitat at Zoo Atlanta, the zoo’s March 18 Facebook video showed. The “super sweet moment” was a “father-son milestone” for the duo, the zoo said.

The video shows Willie B. Jr. lying on his side with his “super sweet play face” as his son rolls around on the ground, jumping on his father’s hand awaiting him to wave him in the air. While having fun with his son, Willie B. Jr. remained “gentle,” the zoo said.

“Since this first play session, the two have been playing a lot behind the scenes,” the zoo said.

Willie B. Jr. was born in 1998 as the only son of his “famous late father,” Willie B, according to the zoo. He lives in a “family group” with three females, including Willie B. III’s mother, Shalia, the zoo said.

“He’s a very large silverback with a playful, silly streak, sometimes running backward, playing in water, or sliding down wet hillsides,” the zoo said in Willie B. Jr.’s profile.

Willie B. III was born to Willie B. Jr. and Shalia on April 24, 2023, making him the 25th gorilla born at Zoo Atlanta, the zoo said in a May 2023 news release.

“Through the lens of Willie B.’s life, we are able to see the story of Zoo Atlanta’s dramatic evolution. With the arrival of Willie B., III, we have the opportunity to share and celebrate that story, both with those who grew up with it, and with those who have never heard it before,” the zoo’s president Raymond B. King said in the release.

Western lowland gorillas are considered critically endangered due to poaching and habitat loss, according to Zoo Atlanta. Home to “one of the largest populations of gorillas in North America,” the zoo said it aims to “conduct many meaningful studies” on gorillas to help those in the wild.

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