Best Of 2019

Best Fight Over a Cincinnati Gorilla Who Isn’t Harambe: Ndume

What is it with Cincinnati and gorillas? This year, the Cincinnati Zoo fought a pitched legal battle to regain custody of Ndume, a 37-year-old gorilla the zoo loaned to the California-based Gorilla Foundation in 1991. Ndume was supposed to be a boo for Koko, the famous gorilla sign-language prodigy trained by Gorilla Foundation co-founder Penny Patterson. But Koko swiped left, so to speak, and she and Ndume never hit it off. Dating is hard. Koko passed away last year, triggering a clause in a 2015 agreement between the foundation and the zoo for Ndume’s return to Cincinnati. Ndume is the last gorilla at the Gorilla Foundation, and the Cincinnati Zoo and other groups, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), have suggested he has been isolated and could receive better care and opportunities to engage with other gorillas at a larger facility. In legal filings, the Cincinnati Zoo called his return “urgent.” The only problem? The Gorilla Foundation didn’t want to let Ndume go, saying the trip back to Cincinnati could kill him. (We all have that high school friend who went to college in the Golden State and now feels the same way, right?) But after a lawsuit, a federal judge ordered Ndume’s return to the Queen City. Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, 3400 Vine St., Avondale, cincinnatizoo.org.