A happy first birthday for a special gorilla from San Diego

Joanne the gorilla from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park celebrated her first birthday this week. She was born last year through an emergency C-section.

Mum Imani carried Joanne out on her back where she stayed while swiping up an ice cupcake. Keepers had crafted this from pureed yams. She hoped down when she spotted a mirror smeared with peanut butter. The rest of the troop joined her to enjoy their favourite snacks which were hidden around the enclosure.

The troop received a cake to share while Joanne enjoyed her own smaller cake. This was made using using oranges, orange juice, pureed yams and sweet potatoes. Joanne even received a gift in the form of a doll house with the number one on the front made by a Safari Park volunteer.


The back walls of the gorilla habitat had been decorated with a chalk “Happy Birthday Joanne” sign done by animal care staff. The rest of the habitat was filled with gift boxes containing sunflower seeds, peanuts, fruit slices and vegetables. This encouraged the gorillas to forage which is a natural behaviour.

Members of the troop helped to open the boxes while Joanne tucked into the cake. Her independence was shown when she ventured away from mum to eat flowers and plant trimmings from the Park horticulture staff.

Joanne is an extra special gorilla as she was born via an emergency section on March 12 2014. This was due to complications during labour as Imani was a first time mother. It took 11 days in the Paul Harter Veterinary Hospital before she could return to the gorilla house. Here she was able to reunited with her mother.


Now she is regularly sighted playing in the gorilla habitat with the other youngsters 3 year old, Monroe and 6 year old, Frank. The troops young males are eager to interact with Joanne. Imani is highly protective though only allowing Frank a brief hold so far. Young Monroe is a bit cheeky and can be seen poking and peering at Joanne.

Her name is in honour of Joanne Warren who was the first chairwoman of the foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.

Photo Credit:     San Diego Zoo Safari Park/ Tammy Spratt – Joanne eats cake

San Diego Zoo Safari Park/ Ken Bohn – Baby Joanne

By Cale Russell

TheAnimalFacts.com is a testament to Cale’s commitment to the education of people around the world on the topic of animals and conservation, through the sharing of topical and newsworthy information.

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