Kokamo, San Diego Zoo's 22-year old Western Gorilla, cradles her baby, who was born at 9 p.m. on June 17, 2011. It was determined that the infant was a male and he has been named Monroe! Monroe is the first gorilla born at the Safari Park since October 2000.
Both mother and baby are doing great and keepers report that the mother is taking excellent care of the baby, which is nursing often. The animal care staff report a very strong bond. A newborn gorilla grows quickly and can be expected to learn to walk on its own by six months; by 18 months of age, it can follow Mom on foot for short distances. Gorillas have been known to nurse for up to three years.
Photo Credit: San Diego Zoo
The San Diego Zoo Safari Park now has 6 western gorillas, a species listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.Western gorillas live primarily with in tropical rain forests. A great deal of their habitat has been destroyed for roads and developments which have helped with the Gorillas decline in population. All gorillas are threatened due to poaching, hunting, habitat loss and many other reasons, most of them human induced.
The gorilla is named Monroe in memory of Lee Monroe, M.D., a former president of San Diego Zoo Global (previously known as the Zoological Society of San Diego). Dr. Monroe also served as chair of the Zoo's Research Committee for 16 years and continued to support the Zoo and the Safari Park after his retirement from medicine.
The 1,800-acre San Diego Zoo Safari Park (historically referred to as Wild Animal Park) is operated by the not-for-profit San Diego Zoo and includes a 900-acre native species reserve. The organization focuses on conservation and research work around the globe, educates millions of individuals a year about wildlife and maintains accredited horticultural, animal, library and photo collections. The Zoo also manages the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. The important conservation and science work of these entities is supported in part by The Foundation of the Zoological Society of San Diego.