Vote to name Zoo Atlanta’s baby gorilla, and case a vote for a change for her species
Naming will benefit gorilla conservation in Africa
The newest member of North America’s largest population of gorillas needs a name, and members of the public are being asked to cast more than just a traditional vote to decide what it will be. The naming of the female infant born to western lowland gorilla Kudzoo on September 18, 2016, will include a new component that supports gorilla conservation, making a direct connection between Zoo Atlanta’s youngest gorilla and gorillas living in the wild in Africa.
Beginning Tuesday, January 31, friends and fans are invited to choose one of four names for $1 per vote. Funds will benefit the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, the Zoo’s partner in gorilla conservation.
“This effort is about more than just choosing a name for a special youngster. We have an important opportunity to highlight the direct connection between this baby and her family and the wild gorillas Zoo Atlanta helps protect,” said Raymond B. King, President and CEO. “To give a baby a name is to suggest hope for her future, and with this naming, we want to create that same hope for the wild, where our help is needed the most.”
“Gorillas are critically endangered in the wild, and there is a real risk that they will go extinct in our lifetime,” said Fossey Fund President and CEO/Chief Scientist Dr. Tara Stoinski. “Our more than 20 year partnership with Zoo Atlanta has enabled us to provide essential protection for wild gorilla families, just like those you see here at the Zoo. We are excited that through naming Kudzoo’s baby, Zoo Atlanta is providing our community with another way to help ensure a future for gorillas in the wild.”
Selected by members of the Zoo’s primate care team, the four names are as follows: Adia (“valuable gift” in Swahili); Fahari (“proud” in Swahili); Mijadala (“Mija” for short – “vocal” in Swahili); and Tisa (“nine” in Swahili – the infant is the ninth offspring of silverback Taz).
Voting runs through 11 p.m. on Monday, February 6 at zooatlanta.org/gorillanaming. There is no limit to the number of times fans may vote. The winning name will be announced on Tuesday, February 7.
The 23rd gorilla born in the Zoo’s Ford African Rain Forest, the infant is the equivalent of Zoo Atlanta royalty – her mother, Kudzoo, was the firstborn offspring of the legendary late Willie B. – but the outlook for her species has changed dramatically since her famous grandfather’s time. According to the International Union for the 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 western lowland gorilla populations by 60 percent, 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.
In addition to being an active member of the Gorilla SSP and providing pro-bono space and resources for the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, Zoo Atlanta is a Gold Supporter of the AZA Ape Taxon Advisory Group (TAG) Conservation Initiative, a collective effort by zoos to protect wild ape populations. The Zoo also supports a number of other species and their habitats around the world via its Mabel Dorn Reeder Conservation Endowment Fund, as well as donates 25 cents of every Zoo admission ticket to field conservation programs via Quarters for Conservation, launched in 2016.
In 2011, the 50th anniversary year of its gorilla program, Zoo Atlanta received the prestigious Edward H. Bean Award for Significant Achievement from AZA for its long-term commitment to western lowland gorillas and training advancements for the species. Research by Zoo Atlanta staff has influenced industry-wide improvements in the care of gorillas in zoos, as well as enhanced understanding of gorilla biology, with more than 100 published papers on maternal care, reproduction, social behavior and cognition. Zoo Atlanta is the headquarters of the Great Ape Heart Project, the world’s first effort to understand, diagnose, and treat cardiac disease across all four great ape taxa: gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees and bonobos.
Now home to 21 western lowland gorillas, the Zoo is also home to three of the world’s oldest gorillas – the infant’s paternal grandmother, Shamba, 57; maternal grandmother, Choomba, 53; and 55-year-old Ozzie, the oldest living male gorilla in the world – and has become a leader in the emerging field of geriatric gorilla care.
Learn more about conservation efforts at Zoo Atlanta at zooatlanta.org.