Stop the presses: this gentle giant was thought to be “the best gorilla father figure.”
  • 1960s
  • 1990s

Arriving at the San Diego Zoo in July 1960, this handsome young western lowland gorilla was named Trib in honor of the San Diego Evening Tribune, whose publisher, James S. Copley, donated the funds to bring him here. Mr. Copley also financed construction of the Zoo’s seal pool and, later, the acquisition of two other young gorillas, Scoop and Copy.

When Trib first arrived, he lived with the reigning silverback, Albert, and females Bouba and Vila. As the subordinate male, Trib knew that he should give way to Albert—but Trib’s mischievous nature sometimes got the best of him. He would tease Albert, poking at him or sitting too close, and then running away quickly when Albert showed irritation. Albert was usually very patient, but on occasion, the keepers saw him grab Trib and hold him down, grunting loudly—just long enough for Trib to get the message.

Trib lived at the Zoo for more than a decade, but then it was his turn to be in charge. He was one of the Wild Animal Park’s (now the Safari Park) original residents, transferred to the Park in 1972, where he became the head of the gorilla troop there.

And rarely has there been such a wonderful patriarch of any species! Gentle and insightful, 450-pound Trib had a knack for welcoming youngsters to the troop, and was devoted to his role as leader and protector. During his years at the Park, Trib sired eight offspring, the last being Paul Donn in 1989. Keepers called Trib unique and proclaimed him “perhaps the best gorilla father figure” in a zoo.

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