The Smithsonian's National Zoo is pleased to announce the name of its 2 1/2-month-old female baby western lowland gorilla—Kibibi (kee-BEE-bee)—which means little lady in Swahili. More than 10,000 people voted in a public naming contest held by the Zoo and the Friends of the National Zoo. The public was invited to vote on three names for the gorilla, including Kipenzi (kee-PEHN-zee) loved one and Keyah (KAY-yah) good health, over the course of several weeks. Kibibi was born at the Zoo Jan. 10 to 26-year-old female Mandara and 16-year-old Baraka.
Kibibi is a healthy baby girl, and represents the seventh successful gorilla birth for the Zoo since 1991. Due to the expert parenting of Mandara, Kibibi has reached a number of milestones in her development, some earlier than expected. Kibibi already has four teeth, has been riding increasingly on Mandara's back and shows an interest in her environment, especially in food given to Mandara. In the coming weeks, she is expected to begin exploring her surroundings and manipulating objects.
Western lowland gorillas, which are native to tropical forests of West and Central Africa, are listed as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Red List of Threatened Species, primarily due to habitat loss and fragmentation and poaching. The Zoo participates in the Species Survival Plan for gorillas, in which North American zoos collaborate to encourage the development of a self-sustaining zoo gorilla population, helping to ensure the survival of this endangered species. Each SSP manages the breeding of a species in order to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable.