The Gorilla King
Explore Titus's Family Tree

gorilla in the rain

While his prolific mating is a clear sign of the king’s success, this unique gorilla’s extensive family tree grew out of tragic circumstances.

At first, daily life for Titus was routine. He was a member of a stable group of happy individuals. The group even surprisingly allowed a young outsider to join them, which is very unusual among gorilla groups. Normally they will not tolerate outsiders. Tragedy struck when Titus’s father, “Uncle Bert,” was murdered by poachers. The young outsider, Beetsme, who had become close with Titus, could sense an opportunity. He exhibited classic takeover behavior and grew aggressive toward the females of the group. In a skirmish with Titus’s mother, “Flossie,” Beetsme struck her infant, killing it. Flossie and Cleo, Titus’s sister, subsequently deserted the group, leaving young Titus orphaned and abandoned.

For a time, Titus, Beetsme, and the other remaining young males formed a group of their own. But when another group disbanded, females from that group joined them, and Beetsme became the leader of the new family group. He drove away every other male, except for Titus, who he allowed to stay, possibly to help keep the group safe from outsiders. He had succeeded in eliminating competitors for what were now his females — or so he thought.

Titus\'s Family Tree  

This image shows some of the offspring Titus is known to have sired. Images are not available of all of them, as some may have died or left the area. Click to enlarge.

Beetsme was unaware that Papoose, the dominant female, was growing rather fond of his young companion, Titus. Even researcher Martha Robbins agreed with Papoose’s judgment, joking in The Gorilla King that in her own opinion Titus was the more handsome of the two. Behind Beetsme’s back, Papoose was mating with Titus. It was the beginning of an impressive dynasty.

In the course of her research, Robbins began a series of paternity tests to see who was having the most reproductive success. The tests proved that Titus had fathered several babies with Papoose, among them, Pasika, Bukima, Turakora, and Kuryama (the male whose challenges to Titus’s reign are documented in The Gorilla King).

All told, researchers at Karisoke believe that Titus has sired over 20 babies, though they are still completing DNA tests to make sure. They do know beyond a doubt, however, that he has fathered at least 13 — still more than any other known mountain gorilla.

Not too bad for a gorilla who had such enormous odds to overcome.

  • r5ose fee

    This was an excellent show. The photography was beautiful and intense. more shows like this are needed.they should also be shown in the classroom

    thank you njn

  • Will

    Just Awesome, Man in his ignorance will continue do his upmost to destroy all that wonderful in this world but I hope this film touches at least one other as it has me, the world could learn a lot from Titus

  • Karina Cooney

    Wonderful, wonderful show. Looking forward to seeing more of Titus and Titus’s legacy in the future.
    A Big Thank You.

  • Lorraine Moutrie

    What a fantastic programme,I do hope that we get to seem more of Titus in the future.Such a joy to watch.

  • Josh

    I just cried and cried! I hope that we, some how, find the means to evolve our own species. From our glaciers to our Orca Whales we just can’t seem to stop our self induced eradication of earths true treasures and vitalities to our own existance.

  • Alex Dagostin

    Alex Dagostino, Says:
    What a remarkable show it was the best of PBS which is always right on.I felt as though i was on the adventure.
    I have already done research on a trip to Rwanda.Keep it up.

  • Rene Hersey

    When you consider the odds that Dian Fossey encountered as a woman and outsider when she arrived in Rwanda~it is worth noting that her hard work paved the way for this magnificent doc 34 years after Titus’s birth! Send letters to Pres Obama & Dr. Rice encouraging strong support of peace in Congo/Uganda/Rwanda. Support Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, Fauna & Flora & AWF in their efforts to protect Mountain Gorillas and other populations of Gorilla’s as well. Happy New Year.

  • Unnamed Nature Lover

    AMAZING! Titus is a trooper. Losing so much in adolescence and growing up to rule a group just to have problems with his child(Kuryama) and then start another group, it seems impossible, but Titus proves it can be done. I suggest we convince others to watch the program to show them that they should support organizations that help gorillas and stop poaching. GAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!! Sorry, rage outburst. I just hate poaching! It’s plain wrong and it needs to stop. Well, I gotta go. Toodles and Happy 4th!

  • Jay Alexander

    … his plan to turn over control to his son by taking his troop up into the cold knowing that he would “sweat Kuryama out” until he split with his own loyals. This defies instinctual and previously known gorilla behavior. This displays an order of intelligence on par with a good human being. ASTOUNDING!!!!

  • Jay ALexander

    Titus understood that Kuryama was Iis first-born son. K could not have known this. Titus considered him heir. Titus is not only a king, he is a BEING!

  • Jay ALexander

    I have been so moved by this that I will state here for record, that if I ever have a son. I will name him Titus. RESPECT.

  • Jessie Bain

    A great show about the gorillas and their plight. I still cry and Titus has been dead for two years. I agree we need more shows like this to open awareness about the endangered species of our world. Champion !!

  • Glenn Pollock

    Absolutely wonderful programk. So wonderful to see the Diane Fossey’s research is still ongoing.

  • Rodney Romauldo

    I try to exercise my body by doing pullups and things gorillas do to increase strength. Gorillas are my favorite creature on this planet. The silverback Titus was and still is my favorite. He showed us that gorillas are not vicious, that they are much more human than humanity itself. R.I.P. Titus and thank you for showing us dumb humans what life is truly about.

  • Gorilla king’s followers

    I think it’s a dynasty that would have to track down indefinitely, like the first time you do a follow ent generation of such magnitude in grands apes can be very useful and give us knowledge on the one hand and the another will ensure at least the line of TITUS. And if someone hurt them should go to juicio de faltas por lesiones .

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