Higashiyama Zoo -

Nene and Ai
Nene and baby Ai

Nene was born in 1972 in Cameroon, Africa. It is not know when she was captured. She arrived at Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens in Nagoya, Japan on October 27, 1973. She was just an infant. On February 27, 2003 she gave birth to a female gorilla who was named Ai. The father was Rikki. Sadly, Rikki died a month later and Ai never got to spend any time with him.

Nene and baby Kiyomasa
Nene and baby Kiyomasa

On November 1, 2012 Nene gave birth for the second time to a male gorilla who was named Kiyomasa. Kiyomasa’s father is Shabani. Nene is very close to Kiyomasa. She is very protective of him. So much so that when Annie was an infant Nene attacked her a few times when she thought Annie was being a danger to Kiyomasa. Shabani who was very protective of Annie attacked Nene in return. Those days were very stressful for the whole troop. Shabani likes to play still even though he is a silverback. He enjoys mostly being chased. Nene is easy to anger and therefore a common target for Shabani. He will push her until she gets angry enough to chase him around the enclosure screaming. She would never actually attack him physically because you just don’t do that to the silverback. But even if she tried, Nene has few teeth left. When Shabani makes Nene mad and Nene starts chasing him around the enclosure, Kiyomasa gets very upset and will hang from Nene’s belly like infants do, to get her to stop chasing Shabani.

Nene angry at Shabani
This is what happens when Shabani makes Nene angry.

Most female gorillas start to loose interest in mating sometime in their 30’s although some have given birth at a much more advanced age. Nene at 46 still pursues Shabani for mating on a regular basis. When she is in estrus, she can be seen chasing him several times a day.

Typically, females are the ones who attract male gorillas with body movements: initially, slowly and leisurely they approach the silverback with uninterrupted eye contact while puckering their lips and then they have to assess the male response to take the next step. If the male courted do not react at her insinuation, she gets closer and can even touch him. If this still does not work, she hardly hit the ground in a final attempt to draw his attention once and for all.

Nene is quite obvious about what she wants. She will come right up to Shabani and stare at him with her lips pressed in her mouth. She might play some games like take off running when he shows interest but she never runs very far.

Update: On January 1, 2019 Nene sat on the scale and weighed 89kg which is 196 lbs. Adult female gorillas usually weigh about half as much as adult males at 68–113 kg (150–250 lb). So Nene is a good average, healthy weight. 

Nene's come-hither look
love game
Nene got her wish granted
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