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Cleveland Metroparks Asks for Public’s Help in Naming Zoo’s First Baby Gorilla

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and CrossCountry Mortgage are inviting the public to help choose a name for the first gorilla born at the zoo in its 139-year history. The naming opportunity not only will help the male gorilla, born October 26, settle into his home at the zoo but also supports conservation of the critically endangered species in the wild.  
Participants can cast votes online by making a financial contribution for any of three names at or by voting in person at the gorilla habitat at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.

The three name finalists include:

Bakari, “One who will succeed”

Jabari, “Fearless or brave one”

Kayembe, “Extraordinary”

“Gorillas are an incredible species and the birth of the first gorilla here in Cleveland has been another reminder of why we need to protect them from extinction,” said Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Executive Director Dr. Chris Kuhar. “Every vote to help name our gorilla will have a direct impact, protecting this iconic and critically endangered species in the wild.”
An exclusive video series created in partnership with CrossCountry Mortgage continues to follow the baby’s growth and development.
“Cleveland is this baby gorilla’s hometown, and what better way to deepen the public’s connection than helping us select his name,” said Laura Soave, Chief Brand Officer, CrossCountry Mortgage. “We look forward to engaging the public in this opportunity and others moving forward that continue to position Cleveland, its remarkable park system and the world-class zoo as must-see destinations for decades to come.”
The gorilla’s birth in late October was estimated to be a month premature and his mother, Nneka, did not immediately show appropriate maternal care that is required for newborn gorillas. However, the troop’s eldest female, Fredrika or “Freddy,” quickly picked him up and has been serving as his surrogate mother ever since. In November he developed pneumonia, requiring zoo experts to step in and provide hands-on 24/7 care but this month he was successfully reunited with Freddy and the troop following his recovery.
Western lowland gorillas are listed as critically endangered by The World Conservation Union (IUCN). Each donation to help name the baby will help conserve gorillas in the wild through Cleveland Metroparks Zoo’s longtime partnership with the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. Dr. Kristen Lukas, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo’s Director of Conservation & Science, serves as vice chair of the Fossey Fund board and also works abroad alongside the Fossey Fund to help train Rwandan scientists studying at Karisoke Research Center in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.
Guests visiting Cleveland Metroparks Zoo can visit the baby and gorilla troop at the Primate, Cat & Aquatics building daily between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.