World Gorilla Day was also naming day for the youngest member of the western lowland gorilla population at Zoo Atlanta. The infant western lowland gorilla, who is 2 months old today, has been named Floyd.
“Floyd” was one of more than 100 names submitted online during a naming campaign from September 10 through September 20, and was one of three names drawn at random to be featured in the gorilla habitat on World Gorilla Day. The Zoo’s large family group of gorillas entered their habitat to find three name stations. Each featured a produce-filled ice “cake” bearing one of the three names, which were also written in peanut butter, a favorite treat, on the glass on the outside of The Ford Willie B. Gorilla Conservation Center. The infant’s mother, Lulu, chose the “Floyd” cake first.
The winning name was submitted by Kay Lie Tjauw, citing that the name means “grey-haired” as an homage to the fact that the infant will someday grow into a silverback, the term for a mature male gorilla. The other two featured names were Muhabura, for Mount Muhabura on the border of Rwanda and Uganda, submitted by Sage Wicinski, and DJ, for actor Dwayne Johnson, a special visitor to the Primate Team while at the Zoo filming in 2017, submitted by an anonymous donor.
Funds raised from the naming campaign will benefit Zoo Atlanta’s longtime partner in gorilla conservation, The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International. The Fossey Fund and Zoo Atlanta were among the first organizations to observe World Gorilla Day, which is observed annually on September 24.
Infant Floyd, a grandson of the late Willie B. and a great-grandson of Ozzie, the oldest living male gorilla in the world, has an important legacy. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), over a 25-year period, the combined threats of poaching, illegal hunting for the bushmeat trade, habitat loss and emerging diseases such as Ebola have reduced their numbers by 60 percent in the wild, with declines of as much as 90 percent in some parts of their range in western Africa. Populations living within North American zoos are overseen by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Gorilla Species Survival Plan® (SSP), which seeks to maintain a self-sustaining, genetically diverse gorilla population for future generations, and in which Zoo Atlanta is an active partner.