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.
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About Zoo Atlanta
A proud accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the gold standard for animal care and welfare, Zoo Atlanta has a mission to save wildlife and their habitats through conservation, research, education and engaging experiences. The Zoo is home to more than 1,000 animals representing more than 200 species from around the world, many of them endangered or critically endangered. Highlights include giant pandas, including Ya Lun and Xi Lun, the only giant panda twins in the U.S.; one of North America’s largest zoological populations of great apes; and a global center of excellence for the care and study of reptiles and amphibians. Recent transformations include Scaly Slimy Spectacular: The Amphibian and Reptile Experience, home to more than 70 species in the world’s first LEED Gold-certified reptile and amphibian complex. Experiences include behind-the-scenes Wild Encounters with African lions, Aldabra giant tortoises, giant pandas and lemurs. Zoo Atlanta is open year-round with the exceptions of Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Keeper Talks, interactive wildlife presentations, education programs and special events run year-round. For more information, visit zooatlanta.org.
NOW OPEN: the all-new African Savanna, featuring new and expanded habitats for African elephants, giraffes, zebras, ostriches, warthogs and meerkats. The African Savanna is part of the Zoo’s landmark Grand New View transformation. Future elements include Savanna Hall, a state-of-the-art special event destination, and a new grand entry plaza, opening in early 2020. For more on the Zoo’s mission and conservation programs and partnerships, visit zooatlanta.org/conservation or download the 2018 conservation report, Beyond the Zoo.
About the gorilla program at Zoo Atlanta
The arrival of Zoo Atlanta’s most famous gorilla, the late Willie B., in 1961, evolved into what is today a nationally recognized program for the care and behavioral study of critically endangered western lowland gorillas. Twenty-four gorillas have been born at Zoo Atlanta since the opening of the landmark Ford African Rain Forest in 1988, with all infants having been mother-reared or reared by a gorilla surrogate. In 2011, the 50th anniversary year of its gorilla program, Zoo Atlanta earned the distinguished Edward H. Bean Award for Significant Achievement from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) for its long-term commitment to the species. Research published by Zoo Atlanta staff has resulted in more than 100 scientific papers on gorilla behavior, biology, reproduction and care. Zoo Atlanta is the headquarters of the Great Ape Heart Project, the world’s first coordinated effort to understand, diagnose, and treat cardiac disease across all four great ape taxa. Zoo Atlanta’s primary partner in gorilla conservation, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, is headquartered at Zoo Atlanta and protects and supports gorillas and their habitats in Africa.