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Cleveland Zoo gorillas get Netflix show

Gorilla holds newborn gorilla infant at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo welcomed its second baby Western lowland gorilla on July 19, 2023, born to mom, Kebi Moyo, and dad, Mokolo.

The gorillas at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo will have one of the biggest audiences in the world.

Starting Thursday, the gorilla troop is expected to appear in a two-hour livestream on Netflix from 10 a.m. to noon. Their "show" will stream every Thursday at the same time throughout September.

"This isn't a show where we're selecting the best bits of it," Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Executive Director Chris Kuhar said. "This is gorilla life, so we're going to be able to see them move around and interact socially as a gorilla group."

The livestream on the "Baby Gorilla Cam" includes Mokolo, an adult male gorilla, and Kebi, Moyo, Fredrika, Nneka and Tusa, all adult females.

The two babies of the troop, Kayembe and the yet-to-be-named female newborn, will also be seen.

Viewers will have the opportunity to help name the newest gorilla by voting on the Zoo's Instagram account. Voting will open at 10 a.m. Thursday during the premiere episode and conclude on Sept. 12 at midnight. Zoo officials say the name with the most votes will be revealed during the second episode.

RELATED: A troop of gorillas nurtures the first baby gorilla in the Cleveland zoo's 139-year history

The livestreaming is more than just a gorilla show-and-tell. According to Kuhar, the zoo has been in talks with Netflix for the past few months, but a focus on the gorillas goes back years.

"We have an extensive science team that is doing research on gorilla heart health and gorilla health in general," Kuhar said.

The gorilla troop has also been put on what's known in other zoos as the "Cleveland diet," a plant-based formula Kuhar confirmed has been adopted at zoos around the world and shown positive impacts on gorilla health.

More than anything, Kuhar said, he wants to show how zoos have evolved.

"We're still trying to communicate what we do in terms of science and research and conservation," he said. "We're still trying to show that modern gorilla habitats are naturalistic, that they have the opportunity to for gorillas to perform a lot of different behaviors."

A new gorilla habitat is also planned in association with a primate forest project. The project is a long-term plan for a 140,000 square foot multi-level habitat for gorillas and orangutans. The zoo's existing RainForest will be expanded for the addition. The entire project is scheduled to be completed by 2032.

For now, the world will able to see daily life for gorillas in Cleveland — everything from the sweet moments to the spats.

"I think sometimes when you see a television program that's been edited for content, you don't get a good sense of what's really happening, and I think this is a really good opportunity to see these animals and what they do on a daily basis," Kuhar said. "We're not engaging with them at all, we're just letting them be gorillas."

Updated: September 6, 2023 at 5:41 PM EDT
Josh Boose is associate producer for newscasts at Ideastream Public Media.