Home History Willie B: Atlanta’s Beloved Gorilla

Willie B: Atlanta’s Beloved Gorilla


In 1961, the Zoo of Atlanta received the baby gorilla that would become its most famous resident. Named after former mayor William Berry Hartsfield, Willie B. lived there for 39 years.

For 27 years, the popular gorilla lived in caged isolation with only a TV and tire swing. In 1988 he hesitantly stepped on the grass when he was moved to The Ford African Rain Forest, where he became leader of a troop and fathered five offspring.

When he died in 2000, more than 8,000 people attended his memorial ceremony. A life-size bronze statue is on permanent display.

Caroline Parsley, The 100 Companies

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