Philadelphia Zoo is pleased to announce that its newest addition, a Western Lowland Gorilla baby, born August 26th…is a girl! The infant and her mother, 22-year-old Honi, are doing well and are currently on exhibit with the rest of their troop in the Zoo’s PECO Primate Reserve.
Gorilla babies solely rely on their mother for care during the first months of life, so Honi is in constant contact with the infant, confidently cradling, cuddling and carrying her 24 hours a day. Dad Motuba is sticking close by to guard and protect the family, a role that male Gorillas typically play in the group dynamic.
The infant lives in PECO Primate Reserve with her mother, 31-year-old father Motuba and another female Gorilla 17-year-old Kira.
Viewing times for the baby may vary. Visitors may see the family on exhibit inside of PECO Primate Reserve, in their outdoor habitat, or traversing the Zoo360 trail system (a campus-wide network of see-through mesh trails that affords more opportunities for animals to roam around and above the Zoo grounds). “Honi is a big fan of Zoo360 and has already carried her baby into the elevated trails,” says Dr. Andy Baker the Zoo’s Chief Operating Officer.
Philadelphia Zoo recently enlisted the global community to help name the newborn, and they are using this opportunity to garner support for gorilla conservation. The Zoo partnered with the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education (GRACE) Center in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a sanctuary that rehabilitates highly endangered Grauer’s Gorillas (also called Eastern Lowland Gorillas) whose families were killed by poachers.
Online voters were allowed to choose from a list of names honoring orphaned Gorillas being cared for by GRACE. Voters were asked to donate a minimum of $1.00 (with no maximum) per vote, with all of the proceeds benefitting GRACE’s Gorilla welfare and conservation work in DRC. The Philadelphia Zoo is also matching the donations, dollar-for-dollar, up to $10,000. Voting closed September 29th, and the Zoo plans to announce the winning name next week, via social media.
“We are thrilled to partner with Philadelphia Zoo on this naming campaign and thank them for supporting our efforts with Grauer’s Gorillas in DRC,” says Dr. Sonya Kahlenberg, GRACE Executive Director. “Over the past 20 years, Grauer’s Gorillas have experienced a catastrophic decline of nearly 80%, and if nothing is done, they could be the first great ape to become extinct in the wild. The Zoo’s support will help us give orphan Gorillas a second chance and will boost our work with local communities on conservation education and other programs critical for safeguarding wild Gorillas and their habitat.”
Kim Lengel, the Philadelphia Zoo’s VP for Conservation and Education, said, “We are pleased to support and partner with GRACE. The long-term survival of Gorillas in the wild will require the on-grounds efforts of organizations like GRACE as well as awareness, support and engagement of ‘local action/ global consequences’ on issues like climate change and deforestation-free palm oil, both of which impact Gorillas in parts of their native habitat. We hope that naming Honi’s new baby after an orphaned Gorilla at GRACE, and inviting our global community to select the name, will help make that connection and engage many in the efforts to save Gorillas and other wildlife.”
Both Western Lowland and Grauer’s Gorillas are listed as “Critically Endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Threats include: poaching, habitat destruction, illegal pet trafficking, and disease.
Grauer’s Gorillas are recognized as one of the 25 most endangered primates in the world by IUCN’s Primate Specialist Group ‘Conservation International’ and the International Primatological Society.
Philadelphia Zoo empowers guests to become great ape heroes by encouraging them to join the Zoo to save these majestic animals. Please find more information at this link: http://www.philadelphiazoo.org/Save-Wildlife/UNLESS-Campaign/UNLESS-Project/Send-a-Message.htm