SF Zoo gorilla meets the public on Saturday—and finally gets her name
DECEMBER 18, 2013, SAN FRANCISCO, CA – The San Francisco Zoo is thrilled to announce Saturday, December 21 at 10:00am as the first public viewing of our 5-month old female gorilla at the Jones Family Gorilla Preserve. Over the last month, the care of the infant has slowly and carefully been transitioned from Zoo animal staff to the infant’s western lowland gorilla family. These important introductions began with the matriarch of the six-member troop, 33-year old Bawang, who eagerly served as surrogate mother to five-year old male Hasani under similar circumstances. As predicted, Bawang instantly assumed the role of adoptive mother of the infant and they have been together ever since. Under Bawang’s careful supervision, each gorilla has made the little one’s acquaintance and each one has expressed their curiosity and affection in their own way. Big brother, Hasani, is particularly excited to have received a baby sister for his fifth birthday, which was on December 8. He is often seen playfully engaging with the infant under the watchful eye of the troop’s females. “Once again, Bawang has taken on the huge responsibility of motherhood and has set a positive tone for the troop” said San Francisco Zoo President Tanya Peterson. “We feel very blessed to be able to contribute to the population of this critically endangered species and we feel especially grateful to introduce the entire gorilla family to the public during this holiday season.”
For the benefit of gorilla care and feeding, the public has given $1 per vote toward their favorite of three finalist names (Malaika, which means "heavenly messenger" in Swahili; Kenura, which means "joy" in Kikuyu; Kabibe, which means "little lady" in Swahili). To celebrate the momentous occasion and to properly introduce the little one to the San Francisco Zoo community, the name of the infant gorilla will be announced during the Media Preview on Friday, December 20, at 8:30am.
About the birth
At birth on July 17, 2013, the female infant was 5-pounds, 1-ounce and healthy. Her parents are Nneka (Ni-NEE-ka) and Oscar Jonesy. The infant was born on Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. and is the first birth for mother Nneka and the second sired by silverback Oscar Jonesy. The previous gorilla birth at the SF Zoo was in 2008 when Hasani, the now five-year old male, was born to Monifa and Oscar Jonesy.
About western lowland gorillas
The western lowland gorilla (scientific name: Gorilla gorilla gorilla) is a critically endangered species. Found in Africa with populations in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of Congo, the actual number of gorillas in the wild is unknown due to their habitation in some of the world’s densest and most remote rainforest regions. These gorillas can weigh up to 440 pounds and stand four to five feet when upright on two feet. According to the World Wildlife Fund, poaching, habitat destruction, and diseases such as the Ebola virus have contributed to the decline of the species by 60 percent over the past 25 years. The WWF estimates that if threats to western lowland gorillas were removed, it would take at least 75 years for the species to recover. A wild gorilla’s average lifespan is approximately 35 years and a gorilla in captivity is estimated to live for 40-50 years. There are currently 342 western lowland gorillas at 53 AZA-accredited zoos in North America.
Western lowland gorillas are the smallest of the four gorilla subspecies with a brownish-grey coat with red highlights. Adult males have silver-colored fur on their back and legs, which is the origin of the name silverback. They are herbivores and enjoy plant-based diets that include fruit, vegetables, leaf-based browse, bark, grain, and tubers. They live in family groups called troops of four to six members that are led by a dominant older male and consist of multiple females, juveniles, and young males. Females begin reproduction at age nine or 10 and do not produce many offspring. Female gorillas have a pregnancy term of nearly nine months and usually give birth to one infant. The infant will be held by its mother or ride on her back for approximately one year.
About the San Francisco Zoo
The mission of the San Francisco Zoo is to connect visitors with wildlife, inspire caring for nature, and advance conservation action. Nestled against the Pacific Ocean, the SF Zoo is an urban oasis. It is home to over 1,000 exotic, endangered, and rescued animals representing more than 250 species and lovely peaceful gardens full of native and foreign plants. The majestic Roberts African Savanna offers a multi-species landscape with giraffes, zebras, kudu, ostriches, and more. At Hearst Grizzly Gulch, visitors can get nose-to-nose with rescued grizzly sisters Kachina and Kiona. Lemurs leap through the Lipman Lemur Forest, the largest outdoor lemur habitat in the country. Penguin Island is home to the largest colony of Magellanic penguins outside of the wild. The Zoo’s troop of gorillas lives in the lush Jones Family Gorilla Preserve. Farm animals for feeding and petting can be found in the popular Fisher Family Children’s Zoo. The historic 1921 Dentzel Carousel and the 1904 miniature Little Puffer steam train are treasured by generations of visitors and the newly renovated $3.2 million Elinor Friend Playground re-opened in fall 2013 to rave reviews. The SF Zoo offers a rich history for its guests, including fun rides, educational programs, and exciting events for children of all ages. The SF Zoo is proud to be accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).