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Third birthday for gorilla Kanzi

14 March 2018

Baby gorillas all have a built-in P-plate: it’s the white dot on their backsides, the sign that they’re just babies, so the adults need to cut them a lot of slack when it comes to manners!

While the P-plate spot remains, a baby can literally grab food out of an adult’s mouth with impunity!

Once that white spot starts to fade to black, the adults know that the baby is getting to the point where a few more rules will start to apply.

Kanzi turned three today, and her white spot is starting to show signs of fading! Kanzi won’t be an adult until she is nine or ten, but she’s growing steadily, with her most recent weight at 23kg. That’s a big change from her birthweight of less than 5kg, but still small compared to her mother Kimya’s weight of 90kg,

Kanzi enjoyed a fun three-year-old birthday party this morning, with gift boxes and bags of popcorn and other treats. There were even two ice cakes, full of colourful vegetables, all shared with her mother Kimya, father Otana, and honourary auntie Yuska.

Although it’s a big role for a three-year-old, Kanzi is an ambassador for the wild gorilla population and her party today highlights the threats they’re facing, including loss of habitat, poaching, and other problems related to human impact.
A team of intrepid veterinarians are working with them in the wild, in the Volcanoes National Park made famous by Dian Fossey, and the Zoos Victoria mobile phone recycling campaign They’re Calling on You is raising funds to help the Gorilla Doctors.

Recycling old mobiles also benefits gorillas indirectly by potentially reducing demand for one of the phone components, the mineral coltan, which is mined illegally in gorilla habitat, another significant cause of population loss.

Primate Keepers hope that today’s festivities for Kanzi’s birthday will prompt Victorians to ‘come to the party’ by bringing or sending in the many old, outmoded, and unused mobile phones now lying silent in kitchen or desk drawers.

Those silent phones can still convey a message: that Victorians care about the survival of this endangered species and are prepared to help.