In 2006, Shufai arrived at Ape Action Africa as a physically and emotionally traumatized infant, badly injured by the bullets that had killed his mother. His journey to recovery wasn’t easy, but he’s grown up to become a stunning alpha male.

Before his rescue, Shufai had witnessed the slaughter of his family and then been tied up and tormented for days. He had gunshot wounds to one arm and to the side of his head, and he was so badly injured and traumatised that we weren’t sure he’d survive. Our vet team and experienced carers, led by our Director, Rachel Hogan, worked round the clock to save him, and his resilience allowed him to make an incredible recovery.

A young Shufai © Ape Action Africa / Ian Bickerstaff

As his rehabilitation progressed, he became more confident and secure, and began to enjoy playing and laughing with his carers. He was soon able to meet Djanga, another rescued gorilla of a similar age, and when Shufai’s wounds had healed, the two were introduced to a group of young gorillas.

Shufai became a popular member of the group, but as he grew, he began to suffer from chronic pain caused by the injuries that he’d received as an infant. In 2013, the difficult decision to amputate his arm had to be made. Once again, Shufai proved to be a fighter and was, amazingly, climbing the day after his operation. After finishing his post-op medication, he rejoined his group and was soon playing and wrestling with his friends once again.

Shufai in the trees a year after his operation © Ape Action Africa / Ian Bickerstaff

In more recent years, the males among the group became silverbacks and conflict over females inevitably increased. However, the completion of our largest gorilla enclosure last year meant that we were able to relocate the silverbacks to form a bachelor group, and though we’d initially planned to leave dominant male Nkan Daniel with the females, they made it clear that they had a different preference. Shufai is gentle, caring and protective; all of these traits make him very attractive to the girls, and so plans were changed and he became the sole male in the group. After everything he’s been through, we’re delighted to see Shufai growing into his role as leader.

Shufai in 2020 © Ape Action Africa / Lucía Jorge

Shufai has always had a great following of fans, and we're grateful to all of you for the support that you've shown over the years, which has allowed us to care for Shufai and our other orphans. Thank you for being part of the Ape Action Africa community!

If you'd like to learn more about this remarkable gorilla, you can join our adoption programme here.

Banner image © Ape Action Africa / Lucía Jorge

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