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Gorilla Kimya turns 12

7 January 2017

Western Lowland Gorilla Kimya turned 12 today, so the gorilla group enjoyed a selection of treats to celebrate.

Ice block ‘cakes’ full of healthy carrots, celery, peanuts, and other goodies were shared by Kimya and the other three gorillas.

They also enjoyed opening and exploring gift boxes of goodies such as their favourite popcorn. 

Kimya was born at Taronga Zoo and arrived in Melbourne in October 2013. She gave birth to her first baby in March 2015: her daughter is named Kanzi. Kanzi was the first gorilla born at Melbourne Zoo for 14 years, continuing the Zoo’s gorilla birth history which began when Yuska gave birth to Mzuri in 1984 – the first gorilla birth in Australia. Yuska is still part of the gorilla group, along with Kanzi’s father Otana, and she is helping Kimya care for young Kanzi. 

This Australian regional endangered species breeding program is linked to the European breeding program, so Mzuri went overseas to lead the gorilla group at the Jersey Zoo, and when he retired from that role he moved to a bachelor group in France.

Yuska’s second son Yakini is one of the three gorillas in the bachelor group at Werribee Open Range Zoo, along with his father Motaba and half-brother Ganyeka, whose parents are Motaba and G-Anne. The gorillas at both Melbourne Zoo and Werribee Open Range Zoo are ambassadors for their wild cousins.

Visitors to either zoo or to the website can help gorillas in the wild by taking part in the mobile phone campaign ‘They’re Calling on You’.

The zoos collect old mobile phones for refurbishment or recycling to help fund the work of the Gorilla Doctors, a group of inspiring veterinarians working under very difficult conditions to help these Great Apes in the wild.

The They’re Calling on You campaign was launched at Melbourne Zoo in 2008 by famed primate researcher Dr. Jane Goodall, and since then more than 150,000 phones have been donated, raising more than $130,000 to help gorilla conservation initiatives.

Primate Keeper Jess MacDonald says that Keepers are hoping that Kimya’s birthday party will prompt people who have been given new phones for Christmas to contribute their old phones to help the Gorilla Doctors care for this endangered species in the wild.