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Gorilla Celebrates First Birthday at Woodland Park Zoo

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: March 3, 2021 8:59 pm

gorilla birthday woodland park zoo

Kitoko the gorilla infant plays at the Woodland Park Zoo

Photo Credit: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, USA have celebrated World Wildlife Day 2021. The day was made even more special as the zoo is ushering in the first birthday of their male lowland gorilla infant, Kitoko who was born on March 4th 2020.

“While the zoo was closed for nearly four months, we shared loads of photos of Kitoko—his milestones and tender moments—with our community and zoo family. He has touched the hearts and minds of hundreds of thousands of people during a tumultuous time and brought so much joy,” said Martin Ramirez, mammal curator of Woodland Park Zoo.

gorilla birthday woodland park zoo

Kitoko the gorilla infant plays at the Woodland Park Zoo

Photo Credit: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

This year UN World Wildlife Day is focused on “Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet.” It mission is to make saving wildlife and conservation a priority for all.

“Kitoko’s wild cousins live in tropical rain forests, so his birthday is the perfect time to pay tribute to the communities and wildlife who depend on those forests for survival,” added Ramirez. Western lowland gorillas live in seven countries across west equatorial Africa, including Congo, southeast Nigeria, Gabon and Central African Republic.

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Forests and woodlands are a mainstay of human livelihoods with many people's lives intertwined with these ecosystems. Woodland Park Zoo work with conservation partners such as the Mondika Gorilla Project with the goal of improving the conservation status of African apes and protecting the forests they inhabit.

“Saving gorillas, chimpanzees, and their habitats requires valuing local human cultures and land-use rights,” said Woodland Park Zoo’s Vice President of Conservation Initiatives Peter Zahler. The Mondika Gorilla Project has built a strong relationship with the local people of Bomassa, Bon Coin and Bayanga.

“The project employs community members, providing ways for them to support their families and offering alternatives to unsustainable hunting practices. All of this allows the local people to feel empowered and to take an active role in conservation efforts in their region. This is community-based conservation that works for wildlife and for people.”

gorilla birthday woodland park zoo

Kitoko the gorilla infant plays at the Woodland Park Zoo

Photo Credit: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

Gorillas are closely aligned with the forest. The largest remaining population of the species is found in the northern Republic of Congo which is also the location of 33% of western equatorial Africa's closed canopy forest.

At the Woodland Park Zoo Kitoko and his family act as ambassadors for their species in the wild. The zoo work to bring attention to ways you can help support populations of these animals such as recycling your handheld electronics. Many of the components of your smartphone, iPad or gaming system contain minerals mined in gorilla habitat.

“Woodland Park Zoo’s gorillas and our many wildlife residents are ambassadors for their cousins that rely on forests and woodlands for survival. World Wildlife Day 2021 is a powerful reminder that these animals are symbols of hope and, if we all take meaningful action, we can preserve these important ecosystems into the future for people and wildlife,” said Zahler.

gorilla birthday woodland park zoo

Kitoko the gorilla infant plays at the Woodland Park Zoo

Photo Credit: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

Learn more about the western lowland gorilla here – Western Lowland Gorilla Fact File | The Animal Facts

Learn more about the Woodland Park Zoo on their website – Woodland Park Zoo

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