CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo has launched a special campaign in which the public can help choose the name for their new baby gorilla, which is the first ever born at the zoo.
The three options for the gorilla’s name include:
- Bakari: “One who will succeed”
- Jabari: “Fearless or brave one”
- Kayembe: “Extraordinary”
"Each of the names reflect and celebrate words from a range of languages spoken across west and central Africa where the few remaining gorilla populations live and celebrate the strength the baby has displayed already in his first few months," according to Cleveland Zoo officials.
You can cast your vote online by making a financial contribution HERE or by voting in person at the gorilla habitat at the zoo itself. The name with the largest donation total by 5 p.m. on Feb. 11 will be declared as the winner. The final winning name will then be revealed on Feb. 17.
Officials say this naming opportunity will help support conservation of the critically endangered species in the wild.
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“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,” Cleveland Zoo officials said in a press release. “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.”
The baby gorilla, which was born Oct. 26 last year, can be seen daily from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the Primate, Cat & Aquatics building.
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“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.”
Zoo officials say the gorilla’s birth was estimated to be a month premature, and his mother, NnEka, did not immediately show appropriate maternal care that is required.
“The troop’s eldest female, Fredrika or ‘Freddy,’ quickly picked him up and has been serving as his surrogate mother ever since,” zoo officials said in a press release. “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).