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Every day is World Gorilla Day with Kitoko and Zuna!

Posted by Elizabeth Bacher, Communications

Hello, Zuna! Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo 
With World Gorilla Day coming up in just a few days (it’s September 24) this is the perfect time for an update on the youngest members of our western lowland gorilla family—Kitoko and Zuna!

While mom Nadiri is trying to rest, Zuna uses that time to explore! Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo
Little Zuna is nearly 8 months old right now and is doing great! She weighs around 11 ½ pounds now, which is double her birth weight. Zuna continues to become more and more active and while mama Nadiri tends to keep her close, she is on the move whenever she gets the chance. Sometimes, when Nadiri is trying to get some rest (because being a gorilla mama is a 24/7 job!) Zuna uses that time to venture out a bit—climbing or toddling around. She still takes bottles from the gorilla keepers a few times a day but is trying lots of solid foods now too, including cucumber, yams, carrots and a special fortified biscuit. She also loves to forage for any fruit rinds and extra tidbits of food that Nadiri drops as she eats her meals.

Kitoko's top priority these days is climbing, jumping and having fun! Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo
Kitoko, who is Zuna’s half-brother (Kwame is father to both of them), is now 18 months old, weighs in at 24 pounds and, according to our gorilla keepers, continues to be the class clown of the bunch—loving to leap off the edges of anything he can climb. Having fun seems to be his #1 priority right now (quite appropriate for a youngster his age) and he gives it his all, interacting mostly with Yola (who is a half-sister to both youngsters and will turn 6 later this year), his dad, Kwame and his mom, Uzumma. All of them are very willing participants in Kitoko’s epic play sessions. He is very curious about little Zuna, too, and wants to play with her but Nadiri is still a little cautious about his high level of toddler enthusiasm—so for now any extended interactions with her will have to wait til she’s a little older! Maybe in a few months, buddy!

Nothing is out of reach for Kitoko! Here, he makes creative use of his mom Uzumma as a step stool. Photo: Docent, Kim Henry/Woodland Park Zoo 
Right now, Zuna primarily interacts with her mom (again, mostly because Nadiri doesn’t let her wander too far away before pulling her back or scooping her close) but she has contact now with all members of her extended family. Her most frequent interactions are with half-sister Yola (Nadiri is her mother, too) and dad Kwame. It’s no coincidence Nadiri happens to have a lot of trust in both of them to be gentle with Zuna, considering her age.
Growing up gorilla involves a lot of reaching, grabbing, and tasting—as demonstrated here by Zuna. Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

Yola and Kitoko have had some epic play sessions together! Before long, Zuna will be right in there with them! Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo
Play between Zuna and Yola often consists of gentle grappling and mouthing of faces and arms. Zuna has also found much amusement in climbing on top of Yola when Yola is lying down. As for Kwame—he continues to show that he is a gentle, attentive and patient parent. Zuna will reach out for her dad, or will toddle over to him. So far, Kwame just gently humors Zuna’s “visits” with little touches or sniffs. Occasionally he even scoops her closer to him, which was how he initially engaged with a younger Kitoko, too—but as she gets older and more independent, the gorilla keepers say we’ll probably see him play a little more with Zuna like he does now with Kitoko.

Kwame continues to be a wonderful father and silverback for the group. Here, he has scooped Kitoko into his lap—something he has just started to do with Zuna too. Photo: Woodland Park Zoo
Would you like to help support amazing care for Zuna, Kitoko and our whole gorilla family? All for Animals Giving Day is just around the corner (September 22) and this year you YOU can choose to support one or more of the issues that are most important to you—including care for our gorillas and protection for their wild cousins. We've set up campaigns for animal care, conservation, animal welfare research, education and more! Get all the info and make your gift anytime between now and September 22nd here.

Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

That’s all for now. Big thanks to gorilla keeper Stephanie for providing all the fun details. And thanks also go out to our amazing docents, who are back at the gorilla unit and can capture moments like the one above where Kitoko uses his mom as a step stool! You can keep up with all our gorilla family updates and baby milestones by visiting and stay tuned for more updates on all of our gorillas, soon!


Anonymous said…
I don't think we should keep these creatures in cages