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It’s a Girl! --Philadelphia Zoo Confirms Gender of Gorilla Baby

(Philadelphia, PA) - September 27, 2016 - Philadelphia Zoo is pleased to announce that its newest addition, a western lowland gorilla baby, born August 26th, is a girl! The infant and her mother, 22-year-old Honi, are doing well and are currently on exhibit along with the rest of the troop in PECO Primate Reserve.

Philadelphia Zoo is enlisting our global community to help name the newborn and wants to use this opportunity to support gorilla conservation. The Zoo has therefore partnered with the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education (GRACE) Center in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a sanctuary that rehabilitates highly endangered Grauer’s gorillas (also called eastern lowland gorillas) whose families were killed by poachers. Online voters can help name the new gorilla by choosing from a list of names that honor orphaned gorillas being cared for by GRACE. Voters are asked to donate a minimum of $1.00 (with no maximum) per vote with all of the proceeds benefitting GRACE’s gorilla welfare and conservation work in DRC. The Zoo will match the donations dollar for dollar up to $10,000. To see name options or to cast a vote and donate visit www.PhiladelphiaZoo.org/vote. Voting is open beginning Tuesday, September 27th  at 10am through Thursday September 29th at 4pm.

“We are thrilled to partner with Philadelphia Zoo on this naming campaign and thank them for supporting our efforts with Grauer’s gorillas in DRC,” said Dr. Sonya Kahlenberg, GRACE Executive Director. “Over the past 20 years, Grauer’s gorillas have experienced a catastrophic decline of nearly 80%, and if nothing is done, they could be the first great ape to become extinct in the wild. The Zoo’s support will help us give orphan gorillas a second chance and will boost our work with local communities on conservation education and other programs critical for safeguarding wild gorillas and their habitat.”

“We are pleased to support and partner with GRACE,” says Kim Lengel, the Zoo’s VP for Conservation and Education. “The long-term survival of gorillas in the wild will require the on-grounds efforts of organizations like GRACE as well as awareness, support and engagement of “local action/ global consequences” on issues like climate change and deforestation-free palm oil, both of which impact gorillas in parts of their native habitat. We hope that naming Honi’s new baby after an orphaned gorilla at GRACE, and inviting our global community to select the name, will help make that connection and engage many in the efforts to save gorillas and other wildlife.”

Both western lowland and Grauer’s gorillas are listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with threats including poaching, habitat destruction, illegal pet trafficking, and disease. Grauer’s gorillas are recognized as one of the 25 most endangered primates in the world by IUCN’s Primate Specialist Group, Conservation International, and the International Primatological Society. Philadelphia Zoo empowers guests to become great ape heroes encouraging them to join the Zoo to save these majestic animals. (http://www.philadelphiazoo.org/Save-Wildlife/UNLESS-Campaign/UNLESS-Project/Send-a-Message.htm).

Gorilla babies solely rely on their mother for care during the first months of life, so Honi is in constant contact with the infant confidently cradling, cuddling and carrying her 24 hours a day. Dad Motuba is sticking close by to guard and protect the family, a role that male gorillas typically play in the group dynamic. The infant lives in PECO Primate Reserve with her mother, 31-year-old father Motuba and another female gorilla 17-year-old Kira. Viewing times for the baby may vary. Visitors may see the family on exhibit inside of PECO Primate Reserve, in their outdoor habitat or traversing the Zoo360 trail system. “Honi is a big fan of Zoo360 and has already carried her baby into the elevated trails,” says Dr. Andy Baker the Zoo’s Chief Operating Officer.

Once online voters donate, their information will be entered to win a Zoo prize package courtesy of PECO that includes a family plus membership, a behind-the-scenes experience, $25 food voucher and $25 zoo shop gift certificate.  To find out name options or to cast a vote and donate visit www.PhiladelphiaZoo.org/vote.  For updates on the baby or to ADOPT a western lowland gorilla, visit PhiladelphiaZoo.org or follow our social media channels: Twitter @PhillyZoo, Instagram @PhiladelphiaZoo and Facebook.com/PhiladelphiaZoo.

ABOUT PHILADELPHIA ZOO:

America's first zoo and one of the region's foremost conservation organizations, Philadelphia Zoo is home to nearly 1,300 animals, many rare and endangered. By connecting people with wildlife, Philadelphia Zoo creates joyful discovery and inspires action for animals and habitats. The Philadelphia region’s leading family destination, the Zoo welcomed more than 1.25 million visitors last year. Philadelphia Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. For more information on Philadelphia Zoo, as well as to purchase and print tickets online, visit us at www.PhiladelphiaZoo.org. Facebook: Facebook.com/PhiladelphiaZoo; Instagram: @PhiladelphiaZoo; Twitter: @PhillyZoo. The Philadelphia Zoo is a non-smoking facility.

ABOUT GORILLA REHABILITATION AND CONSERVATION EDUCATION (GRACE) CENTER:

GRACE was founded in 2009 and is the only facility in the world dedicated to providing in situ rehabilitative care for orphaned Grauer’s gorillas.  GRACE also works with local communities, through education and other outreach programs, to help ensure the long-term survival of wild gorilla populations. For more information about GRACE, please visit us at www.gracegorillas.org, watch our video, and follow us on social media (Facebook: GRACE4gorillas and Twitter: @GRACEgorillas).