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Vote to Name the Baby Gorilla!

On May 27, 2023, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute welcomed its newest member to the western lowland gorilla troop! The baby girl was born at the Great Ape House to mom Calaya, age 20, and dad Baraka, age 31. 

After five days of voting and just over 24,000 votes, the winning name is Zahra [ZAH-rah], which means “beautiful flower” in Swahili. It was one of three names that were offered for a public online vote from June 5 to June 9 on the Zoo’s website.

This new baby—the second for both parents—joins the Zoo’s troop of gorillas: silverback leader Baraka, mother Calaya, and their 5-year-old son Moke, as well as a 41-year-old female named Mandara and her 14-year-old daughter, Kibibi. Animal care staff have observed Calaya's excellent parenting skills as she cradles and nurses the infant, who appears healthy and strong.Native to Africa, western lowland gorillas live in the forests of Gabon, Central Africa Republic, Cameroon, Angola, Equatorial Guinea and Congo. These gorillas are considered critically endangered, and primary threats to their survival include disease, poaching, and habitat destruction due to farming and mining activities in their habitat. The Smithsonian works with organizations around the globe to ensure the survival of species like the western lowland gorilla, and the birth of this new baby marks a small victory in the fight for this species' future. Members of the public can help protect western lowland gorillas’ natural habitat by making environmentally conscious decisions like recycling electronics.

Final Results

50% (12078 votes)
33% (7896 votes)
23% (5564 votes)
Total votes: 24223

Meet the baby gorilla

See the newborn baby gorilla being cradled by her mother, Calaya.

Learn about each name:

  • Lola (LOH-lah) | Yoruba for “greatness” 
  • Mkali (M-KAH-lee) | Swahili for “fierce”
  • Zahra (ZAH-rah) | Swahili for “beautiful flower”

A Day in the Life of a Gorilla

Playing, foraging, training and snoozing—it’s all in a day in the life of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s western lowland gorilla troop! 

Western lowland gorilla

Gorillas are the largest of the great apes, but the western lowland gorilla is the smallest of the subspecies. Native to the Congo Basin, the western lowland gorilla is a quiet, peaceful and nonaggressive animal threatened by disease and poaching.

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