Silverback Lowland Gorilla
Critically Endangered

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Family: Hominidae
Subfamily: Homininae
Tribe: Gorillini

This is Mwelu, a male silverback gorilla of the Memphis Zoo.

Lowland Gorillas are highly Intelligent. Many gorillas have been observed exhibiting behaviors which require a high degree of intellegence. One example is a female gorilla exhibiting tool use by using a tree trunk as a support whilst fishing. The skeleton of a gorillas are closely related to humans and are considered highly intelligent. A few individuals in captivity, such as Koko, have been taught a subset of sign language.

The following observations were made by a team led by Thomas Breuer of the Wildlife Conservation Society in September 2005. Gorillas are now known to use tools in the wild. A female gorilla in the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in the Republic of Congo was recorded using a stick as if to gauge the depth of water whilst crossing a swamp. A second female was seen using a tree stump as a bridge and also as a support whilst fishing in the swamp. This means that all of the great apes are now known to use tools.

In September 2005, a two and a half year old gorilla in the Republic of Congo was discovered using rocks to smash open palm nuts inside a game sanctuary. While this was the first such observation for a gorilla, over forty years previously chimpanzees had been seen using tools in the wild, famously ‘fishing’ for termites. It is a common tale among native peoples that gorillas have used rocks and sticks to thwart predators, even rebuking large mammals. Great apes are endowed with a semi-precision grip, and certainly have been able to use both simple tools and even weapons, by improvising a club from a convenient fallen branch.

This is Mwelu who resides in the Memphis Zoo. He has recently appeared on the Rachael Ray show being declared her Biggest Fan

See how an 8-year-old discovered a gorilla named Mwelu who loves to watch Rachael’s show from his den at the Memphis Zoo! When Rachael finds out that it’s Mwelu’s birthday, she sends along a special message for her biggest fan.


  • Warren. A. Williams
    Warren. A. Wil...about 6 years ago


  • Rosie Appleton
    Rosie Appletonabout 6 years ago

    Love the intense look in his eyes

  • naturelover
    natureloverabout 6 years ago

    He looks very masterful- another wonderful shot Lisa!

  • Cheri  McEachin
    Cheri McEachinabout 6 years ago

    He looks like is saying..“yeah I am fine” cute shot

  • turtlepath
    turtlepathabout 6 years ago

    Hes very dignified like a portrait of a judge. Your zoo portraits always seem to catch something personal like this (the snow leapard too) in their eyes. Fantastic work-I am enjoying it very much!

  • mikrin
    mikrinabout 6 years ago

    What a beautiful animal!!! Wonderful shot!!!

  • eyestrange
    eyestrangeabout 6 years ago

    this is superb – you have captured so much character in the face and the light is spot on

  • courier
    courierabout 6 years ago

    Mwelu may have tried out some of Rachel’s recipes. Great shot and thanks for the text.

  • velveteagle
    velveteagleabout 6 years ago

    Such a majestic looking beast.. Well done Lisa..

  • Sheila Smith
    Sheila Smithabout 6 years ago

    He is huge. Beautiful pic. Do you think he is looking as if someone has stolen his nail file and he is wondering what to do?

desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait

10%off for joining

the Redbubble mailing list

Receive exclusive deals and awesome artist news and content right to your inbox. Free for your convenience.