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Lincoln Park Zoo's silverback gorilla JoJo trading city life for 'burbs

JoJo, a 31 year old Western Lowland gorilla at the Lincoln Park Zoo enjoys his afternoon at the Lincoln Park Zoo Regenstein Center for African Apes. He will be moving to Brookfield Zoo, to hopefully father some new off-spring. | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times

JoJo, Lincoln Park Zoo’s massive silverback ape, is swapping his harem in the city for one in the suburbs next month.

The 485-pound, genetically valuable ape is in high demand for breeding. Brookfield Zoo is eager to introduce JoJo – who at 31 is considered geriatric, though he shows few signs of aging – to two possible companions.

His final farewell from Lincoln Park Zoo will take place April 10 and his current harem will disband, with two females heading to other Midwest zoos.

Despite the loss, the ape house by the lake is primed to become more rambunctious than ever when four young males take up residence in a “bachelor pad” this summer.

Two young males are being brought in to share a habitat with two other males that are all on the verge of adolescence – ranging in age from 6 to 8. And signs of adolescence will be everywhere: playful wrestling, throwing things at one another, chest beating and basically running wild with energy. One even has acne.

“Boys will be boys, and it might get extra rowdy,” said Maureen Leahy, Lincoln Park Zoo’s curator of primates.

The all-male arrangement will mimic what sometimes happens in the wild during the awkward years when male apes are too old to live with their parents and too young to strike out on their own.

But if rough-housing adolescent apes isn’t your thing, a different group of apes in a traditional harem will reside in a separate habitat just steps away.