“shah-MAH-voo”; 6-year-old male
hamavu was named after Christian Shamavu, the park ranger from Virunga National Park who led the two-week sting operation in the Walikale region of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo that resulted in his rescue from poachers trying to illegally sell him. Shamavu was carried around for weeks in a small backpack while his captors were searching for a potential buyer. He received medical attention in Virunga National Park then was transferred by plane to GRACE in October of 2011.
Shamavu, currently 6 years old, is the youngest male in the group of 14 gorillas at GRACE. He’s full of restless energy with an inexhaustible eagerness to play. He and male Lubutu are best pals and they’re often seen wrestling and chasing each other up trees, around stumps and through their night quarters. He’s very closely bonded with alpha female Pinga, who acts as a surrogate mother to him. So when it’s finally time for a break, he often feeds or lounges at Pinga’s side. He also still sleeps in Pinga’s nest at night.
Some contend that Shamavu is GRACE’s most beautiful gorilla due to his thick dark hair and striking eyes. He has an upbeat, sometimes silly, personality and likes to display, beat his chest, and even walk short distances on his back legs when he knows people are watching. He’s quite the character and sometimes quite the troublemaker too. When play gets a little rough or when another gorillas steals food from him, he will often scream so that Pinga will intervene on his behalf (even when he’s the instigator of the rough-housing or food theft!).
Best friends: Pinga, Lubutu, Muyisa
Identifying characteristics: Close-set eyes, thick hair on sides of face