Boxes, Arrows and LinesA brief tutorial on the correct interpretation of family relations as shown in the trees

Given the natural promiscuity of gorillas – or more precisely their polygyny – it's hard to present a troop's family tree in a conventional style. In the wild, a troop typically consists of a dominant male, a harem of several females and their offspring, and most zoos try to mirror this family structure in the husbandry of their gorillas.

Therefore, and also because of limited space, it's sometimes almost impossible to show all relations without making the chart too confusing for the viewer. Please read the description of each chart, as there may be additional information on individuals and their relations that could not be shown in the chart itself. 

On this page you will find a few hints about how to read the – potentially ambiguous – arrows and lines connecting a tree's individuals. I'd recommend to pay special attention to the explanations at the end of the chapter Grandparents, as things get a little tricky there (illustrations 8 & 9).


Here is a standard layout – with arrows pointing from parents to their offspring – that does not need further explanation:

Example 1

However, if there is a lack of space, parents are shown above each other (usually with the father above the mother), connected by a line:

Example 2

This chart, showing three generations, combines the two styles:

Example 3Please note the additional arrow pointing from Pepe to Faddama, indicating that she is also his daughter, and their son Viatu a result of incest.

In the following examples the male on top is the father of all the offspring on the bottom:

Example 4a

Example 4b

In the next example, Holli's parents are Kongo and Huerfanita.

Example 5


Here is an example of a standard layout:

Example 6

Yet again, if there is a lack of space, the siblings are shown above each other (usually in order of their date of birth), connected by a line:

Example 7Please note: The two individuals on the bottom left are siblings, whereas the arrow indicates that the ones on the bottom right are mother and son - Kumbuka's mother is Kamili, Kumbuka's father does not appear in this chart.


Again due to lack of space, sometimes grandparents are shown only for one parent. In the chart below, Ernst and Salome are the parents of Artis, whereas Lena's parents are not listed.

Example 8

In some cases, the usual layout of male above female is reversed in order to show the female's parents – while Winston was born in the wild, Alberta was born in captivity so I could add her parents, but not his.

Example 9Please note that Ione's parents are Winston and Alberta.

In the two examples above, the meaning of the connecting line(s) in the middle part of the image is ambiguous. The line could mean either "parents" (of the individual below) or "siblings" (children of the individuals above). It does mean "parents", as both images are details taken from the upper part of a larger chart.

As a rule, a vertical line indicates "parents" when appearing in the upper half of a chart, and "siblings" in the lower half.


Some trees are presented as "spreadsheets", usually with the male on the left, the females to the right of him, and their children below. Quite often this is the most effective way to show the family relations. Click on the image below for an example with explanations.

Example 10

Here is a tree based on this template:

Port Lympne: Djala's Group

Please note

This website features genealogical charts and "family trees" for gorilla groups in zoos, as well as traditional family trees for some exceptionally remarkable individuals.

All charts and trees are updated on a regular basis.
However, when you follow a link be sure to also read the latest comments as they may contain additional information not yet reflected in the chart itself.

New charts are added frequently, so please check the pages for your favorite zoo occasionally.

Also, check out the Links with lots of useful websites about gorillas, both in the wild and in captivity.