Website of Dewar Wildlife
• Fredericksburg, TX USA •

We may not have had Mountain Gorillas, but we did have Gorillas in the Mountains!

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News stories at Dewar Wildlife

This page contains an archive of all the news stories about Dewar Wildlife, starting with the most recent and going backwards. Dewar Wildlife operated a sanctuary for Gorillas in North Georgia from 2003-2015, and these stories concern that facility, residents and visitors...


J.R. Davis Gorilla Studbook

Jim Davis, who unexpectedly passed away in 2017, created an unofficial version of the Gorilla Studbook. This studbook is still updated on a very regular basis and every attempt is made to keep it as up to date as possible:
          Click Here for the Studbook

School Groups visit Dewar Wildlife

Interested in having your School Group Visit?

  In addition to just visiting the facility, several school groups have made it a full outing by camping overnight on the Dewar Wildlife property. We have a fire ring which works well for a night time cook-out and students can use sleeping bags inside unoccupied buildings - even inside cages(!), or they can pitch tents or hammocks and sleep outside if the weather is good. Restroom and showers are available in a nearby building to make it a more pleasant experience.

Dewar Wildlife's secluded location in the mountains of North Georgia makes it an ideal place to experience the natural environment and encourage students to think about conservation, animal welfare and environmental issues. Teachers who accompany the students have been especially impressed at the uniformly positive reaction of the students to the experience.

Dewar Wildlife offers special pricing on group visits - contact JoBeth Dewar (706-374-5109) for more information

A class from Stephens County school visited Dewar Wildlife on October 18, 2013. This photograph was taken just outside the main gates at the conclusion of the visit.

All of them declared that it was an "Awesome" experience, never to be forgotten, to get so close to these magnificent creatures. After camping out overnight (boys in the cages in an unoccupied Gorilla Villa, girls in the Recovery building), they got up the next day and pitched in to help clear the garden for planting and help get the maintenance building organized. Thank you, Stephens County School!


Gorillas and Cardiovascular Testing

Dewar Wildlife Trust's two gorilla residents, Jasiri (age 14) and Kidogo (age 14) received their voluntary cardiac ultrasound exams recently as part of their routine health care from Zoo Atlanta's primate keeper Jodi Carrigan and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta volunteer sonographer Bobbie Boyd. While Jasiri and Kidogo are both healthy gorillas, cardiac disease is the number one health issue facing gorillas in captivity, and so monitoring for cardiovascular disease has become a top priority for zoos and sanctuaries housing great apes. Often, when an ape develops cardiac disease, they do not show behavioral signs until the disease has progressed too far. In the event that an ape develops heart disease, early detection is critical in order for veterinarians to treat and prevent the progression of the disease. Dewar Wildlife's iconic resident, Joe, passed away this past July and chronic heart disease was a major, contributing factor (although at 49, and, at the time, the second oldest male in captivity, we think he did remarkably well, given his condition!).

Cardiac ultrasounds are an excellent diagnostic tool for detecting heart disease, but these exams used to only take place only during sedated physical exams which happen once a year if not less frequently. For this reason, it has been a significant advancement in veterinary medicine and captive care management of great apes to be able to perform awake cardiac exams through routine training exercises between keepers and apes. As part of an initiative of the Great Ape Heart Project at Zoo Atlanta (, Zoo Atlanta has developed an awake ultrasound training program in collaboration with volunteer sonographers from Children's Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA). Zoo Atlanta keepers use training techniques to get the gorillas to present their chests to the mesh of their home enclosures. This allows them to use an ultrasound probe to look at their heart [PICTURE]. While the keeper works on positively reinforcing this behavior, the sonographer views the heart images to collect and calculate all the measurements needed for an evaluation to be made. The Great Ape Heart Project recommends collecting awake ultrasound measurements every six to nine months in order to monitor an ape's heart health closely, so this was the first time since their move to Dewar Wildlife, that Jasiri and Kidogo were due for exams.

July 2012
Our Beloved Joe (Kabako) Passes at 49 Years of Age

Joe died at Dewar Wildlife in Morganton, Georgia on Tuesday, July 31, 2012. Dewar Wildlife’s Francis Cipullo, DVM, in conjunction with Zoo Atlanta's Veterinary team made the difficult decision to euthanize Joe at the conclusion of an emergency immobilization following a recent marked decline in his health along with ongoing chronic health conditions that included advanced periodontal and cardiac disease.

"All of us at the Dewar Wildlife Trust are devastated by the passing of Joe. He was greatly admired and loved by all those who came in contact with him, and everyone who was privileged to meet him face to face will always remember him." He enjoyed the tour visitors and especially young children who seemed to provide an endless source of fascination"  said C. E. Steuart Dewar of the Dewar Wildlife Trust

Born in the wild in Cameroon in 1963, Joe was the third oldest western lowland male gorilla living in a zoological setting, although we believe he may have briefly (for a week!) qualified as the second oldest male. In 1966, Joe became a resident of the Birmingham Zoo in Birmingham, Ala., where he lived for the next 20 years. Although housed with females at the Birmingham Zoo and later the Denver Zoo in Denver, Colo., and the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas, Joe never sired any offspring. In 2003, he moved to our facility at Dewar Wildlife in Morganton, Georgia.

We are grateful to our supporters, tour visitors and the Atlanta and Birmingham Zoos which helped us provide Joe with the rich surroundings of Dewar Wildlife for the last decade of his life. Joe had become a special figure to many people in Georgia over the past decade and he will be missed by all who knew and cared about him.

If you would like to share your thoughts or feelings about Joe, or have photographs you took on a tour, etc. - please visit our Facebook page and comment there so you can share them with everyone else for whom Joe was so important - Thanks!


March, 2012

Willie B. Jr. and Jasiri settle into their new Mountain Home!



Happy Birthday, Joe!

The end of March is Joe's turn to be in the limelight - at 49, the third oldest male gorilla whose age is known.

Guests on the March 31st tour had a special treat to see Joe's reaction to his birthday "Cake" (water-melon, celery for candles with strawberries for the flame).

Willie B. Jr. (Kidogo)


Join the DWT in Welcoming its New Residents!



Willie B. Jr. (Kidogo - Father: Willie B., Mother: Machi)

 Jasiri (Father: Ozoum, mother: Katoomba)

Willie B. Jr. (also known as Kidogo) is the only son of Atlanta's famous Willie B. There are actually three gorillas named Kidogo, so to avoid any confusion, we are probably going to refer to this gorilla as Willie B. Jr. His 'buddy' Jasiri is almost exactly the same age (they are both 13, going on 14), and they get along well together in spite of their quite different personalities. Physically, Willie B. has a far more pronounced sagittal crest, and looks more like an adult male (silverback) than Jasiri who still has more of the look of a younger blackback. Both of them are settling in well at Dewar Wildlife, and we will be posting more information on the two of them and their new life here in the North Georgia Mountains shortly (click on either image for a larger version of the photograph).

Charles Horton

We are especially grateful to Zoo Atlanta for their expression of confidence in working with the DWT to house two of their gorillas, especially with Willie B. Jr. being the only son of Atlanta's famous resident gorilla. Overseeing their care and the facility is Zoo Atlanta's Charles Horton, who personally took care of Willie B. for so many years. It's certainly a wonderful set of circumstances that have resulted in Charles now being associated with both Zoo Atlanta and the DWT where in addition to looking after Joe, he can oversee Willie B.'s son and Jasiri as they spend their active teenage years in the large DWT facility in the North Georgia mountains.

And how is Joe taking all of this? Joe seems to be aware of some new activity in the facility, but since Willie B. Jr and Jasiri are at opposite ends of the huge 8.5 acre habitat from Joe, they are hardly close enough to invoke much attention from DWT's long-time resident, who is now only weeks away from his 49th birthday.

December, 2011

Where are Oliver's Goats? Answer: They went to school!

While Oliver was at the DWT, he had two goats in the habitat to keep him company (see Videos). Originally named Briggs & Stratton in the misplaced optimism of thinking they would keep the grass "mowed" (oops... Oliver's food was a lot more tasty!) - they were then referred to as Mama and Baby. When Oliver left, the two goats stayed in his habitat, but with no immediate further company, it was obviously time to find them a new home.

Charles Horton with Briggs & Stratton in their crates

So the goats left in December to join some other animals on the grounds of a School in South Carolina, Whetstone Academy and reassumed their original names of Briggs & Stratton (especially since "Baby" is now much larger than "Mama"!).

Transportation from Dewar Wildlife to the School was under the careful watch of Charles Horton (photo left) who delivered them in person and took care of health certificates and other transport requirements.

They have become an instant hit with the students and get lots of love and attention from them, not to mention spending time with the donkeys, chickens and other farm critters.

Briggs (left - the mother) and Stratton ("Baby")


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