SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Monkey business just got serious down at Hogle Zoo. The organization is excited to announce its adoption of two new faces: Mary and Pele, a mother-daughter duo of western lowland gorillas. 

Mary (34) and Pele (20) come all the way from Busch Gardens in Tampa, Fla. According to representatives of Hogle Zoo, the move was enforced by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Gorilla Species Survival Plan, a group that strives to support a self-sustaining, genetically diverse gorilla population for future generations. 

The couple was born at Gladys Porter Zoo in Texas and has spent the past 12 years as members of the Tampa troop. For those who don’t know, a “troop” is a social group of gorillas often consisting of one adult male leader and several adult females, juveniles, and infants.

Now that they have arrived at the Hogle Zoo, Mary and Pele will undergo a standard quarantine period in the Great Apes Exhibit where they will be visible to guests.  

Members of the duo’s former family at Busch Gardens gave insight into the gorillas’ personalities. According to Hogle Zoo, Mary is all about family life; she’s loving, supportive, and steady. This tough mama has endured four successful pregnancies which have shaped her into the tender caregiver she is today. Pele, on the other hand, is a real kid at heart. She’s clever, quick, and loves to play with other gorillas. The zoo notes this couple is famous for their “happy food songs,” or the rumbling vocalizations that ensue during mealtime. 

Mary and Pele will now join Hogle Zoo’s troop, a tight-knit crew that’s made up of three gorillas: Husani (31-year-old male), Jabali (18-year-old female), and Georgia (nearly two-year-old daughter of Husani and Jabali). 

According to Clair Hally Burton, Associate Director of Animal Care at Utah’s Hogle Zoo, “We are delighted to have two new additions, making our troop five members strong. Since the loss of Jo Ray K (previous matriarch of the group), we are hopeful Mary and Pele will be well embraced by our current troop members. Georgia is nearly two-years-old and we anticipate Mary and Pele to have a positive influence on her development.”