Woodland Park Zoo Gorilla Turns Two

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: March 5, 2022 8:39 pm

Woodland Park Zoo Gorilla Birthday

Kitoko, an infant western lowland gorilla is pictured at the Woodland Park Zoo

Photo Credit: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

Woodland Park Zoo have celebrated the second birthday of their western lowland gorilla infant, Kitoko. His birthday came the day after UN World Wildlife Day.

Born on January 4th 2020, Kitoko has grown from a small baby in the arms of his mother, Uzumma to an adventurous climber who leaps off anything he can find. One of his favorite activities is to play with fellow infants, 1-year-old half-sister, Zuna, and 6-year-old family member, Yola. 

“Kitoko doesn’t mind being out of Uzumma’s sight if that means he can play with Zuna and Yola,” said Martin Ramirez, mammal curator of Woodland Park Zoo. The energetic toddler has also “developed a laugh that is unusual for a gorilla, and he does it all the time,” said Ramirez. In a very short time, he has succeeded in utterly charming his animal keepers and guests.  

While Kitoko is able to celebrate his birthday in safety his wild cousins don't have as much to celebrate. The species is critically endangered across its African range due to logging which is destroying their forest habitat.

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Woodland Park Zoo partner with the Mondika Gorilla Project in an effort to improve gorilla habitat in Africa. A key goal of the project is to protect the Djéké Triangle the apes inhabit by adding it to the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in the Republic of Congo. 

“This area of rain forest is incredibly important for gorillas, chimpanzees and an enormous number of other wildlife species,” said Peter Zahler, vice president of conservation initiatives of Woodland Park Zoo. “The Congo forest basin is also one of the most important places on the planet in terms of sequestering carbon to combat the threat of climate change, so protecting this landscape has global significance beyond protecting biodiversity.” 

The Mondika Gorilla Project are not alone in this goal working with local people to achieve their goals. “The program’s integration with local communities including 40 indigenous BaYaka peoples has been core to their success,” said Zahler. “Their direct involvement as trackers and research assistants has provided jobs as well as built ownership over conservation efforts.” For people who rely on these forests, this project supports their livelihoods and empowers them to address enduring challenges facing conservation efforts in their homes.

Woodland Park Zoo support efforts to conserve the gorilla from home by collecting and recycling old mobile phones. This allows coltan, a rare mineral to be recovered reducing the needing for mining in gorilla habitat.

Coltan is used in mobile phones to extend the battery life. Mining to supply this ore is occurring across gorilla habitat. Guests can drop their phone off at the zoo to be recycled. Funds from the program are donated to the Mondika Gorilla Project and Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.  

Learn more about Western Lowland Gorillas here - Western Lowland Gorilla Fact File | The Animal Facts

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

Woodland Park Zoo Gorilla Birthday

Kitoko, an infant western lowland gorilla is pictured at the Woodland Park Zoo

Photo Credit: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

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