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Growing Melbourne Zoo treasure turns four
Melbourne Zoo’s much-adored, young Western Lowland Gorilla, Kanzi, turns four this week and that means special treats from keepers and volunteers.
To celebrate the milestone, Melbourne Zoo’s volunteers made Kanzi a surprise giant pink cardboard heart, while keepers smeared her favourite swing with dollops of peanut butter.
Kanzi beat her chest as she joyfully licked the peanut butter off her swing and danced around her exhibit, all whilst grasping the pink heart closely by her side. Her father Otana and mother Kimya joined in the celebrations.
It was a birthday celebration fit for a little ‘treasure’, which also happens to be the translation of Kanzi’s name in Swahili.
Melbourne Zoo Primates keeper Andrew Thompson said Kanzi was an absolute bundle of joy and thoroughly enjoyed her birthday surprises.
“Gorillas love peanut butter and it’s a real treat for them. So Kanzi went straight over to check out her peanut butter smeared swing,” Mr Thompson said.
“She then took her cardboard heart up the hill and danced around and spun on it. So, she certainly had a great time!”
Kanzi weighed ust under five kilograms when she was born. She is now 30.2kg and growing.
“Kanzi is an extremely playful, bright young gorilla who is very trusting and always looking to interact with people,” Mr Thompson said.
“She’s really taking the shape of a maturing gorilla. There’s a small white patch that is present on the lower back of all young gorillas, which begins to fade as they mature. Kanzi’s has now almost disappeared, which means she’ll now begin to pay more attention to the social hierarchy of her group.”
Kanzi stole hearts when she was born at Melbourne Zoo in 2015. She is the sole Western Lowland gorilla born at the zoo during the past 18 years, and just the seventh in the zoo’s history.
Whilst they are big shoes to fill for a young primate, Kanzi plays an important role as an ambassador for her wild cousins. Western Lowland Gorillas are classified as critically endangered, with their population declining alarmingly as a result of their natural habitats being destroyed for the metallic mineral, coltan.
Zoos Victoria’s They’re Calling on You campaign encourages the public to recycle their old mobile phones, which contain coltan, to reduce its demand. Funds raised through the recycling of these phones are also donated to support Gorilla Doctors, who provide life-saving medical care to fragile wild gorilla populations in Africa.
An incredible 168,630 mobile phones have been donated by the public, which has raised nearly $273,000 for gorilla conservation to date. You find out more about how to donate your old phones here.
Visitors can see Kanzi and the gorilla troop up close and personal at Melbourne Zoo 9am-5pm, seven days a week.
You can help protect wild gorillas simply by donating your old mobile phone.
Thought to be one of the closest genetic relations to humans, the Western Lowland Gorilla can even giggle! Sadly, they are critically endangered. Help us fight extinction by adopting a Gorilla.