Louisville, KY (April 20, 2016) – The Louisville Zoo’s Gorilla Forest zoo keepers have been dedicating days and nights to caring for the premature baby gorilla born in March. In recognition of their devotion and tireless caretaking, the keepers have been granted the privilege of naming the new female western lowland gorilla. The baby gorilla was named “Kindi” as a fitting tribute her mother, Mia Moja, who passed away due to complications following an emergency cesarean section. The keeper staff affectionately called Mia Moja “squirrel,” and “Kindi” means “squirrel” in Swahili. Kindi also rhymes with Mshindi, the name of her father.
“Mia’s quickness and agility earned her the nickname ‘squirrel,’” explained Assistant Mammal Curator and Gorilla Forest Supervisor Jill Katka. “She was so special to us that it seemed perfect to name her daughter after the Swahili name for squirrel.”
The public will get the chance to see Kindi for the first time starting Thursday, April 21 in Gorilla Forest. She will be presented with her attending keeper in a sectioned off area of the indoor sanctuary on a limited basis from noon to 4 p.m., Thursdays through Sundays. Viewing times are subject to change as is necessary for such a young gorilla.
Kindi was born via emergency cesarean section on March 14, 2016. She weighed 3 pounds 9 ounces. Her father is silverback Mshindi, who leads a family group with females Paki and Kweli, one of whom the Zoo hopes will be a surrogate for Kindi in coming months. Until that time, the keeper staff of Kelly Bennett, Jane Anne Franklin, Richard Laird, Shea Mikel, Alexis Williamson, Michelle Wise and Katka will continue to care for Kindi with around-the-clock bottle feeding and mimicking her gorilla mother in ways that will help Kindi adjust accordingly when she goes in with the adult gorillas. Keepers are quick to note that it is very important to teach her what it means to be a gorilla just like her mother would have.
The Zoo has been chronicling Kindi’s story and will continue to do so for the near future. Visit Louisvillezoo.org/kindi to followKindi’s Journey brought to you by Baptist Health. Kindi’s Journey will also feature health tips for your own family’s health milestones and some important stories about the plight of gorillas in the remnant wild as well as what is being done to protect them and their habitats. Guests will also be invited to submit photos of their families enjoying the Zoo while growing up alongside Kindi and add them to Zoo’s social media channels (@LouisvilleZoo on twitter, @LouisvilleZooofficial on Instagram and on the Zoo’s Facebook page). Select guest photos will be featured in the Kindi’s Journey scrapbook on the Zoo’s website, which will be updated bi-weekly with photos and videos of Kindi growing up.
“Baptist Health, along with zoo-lovers from all over the region, have the unique opportunity to be a part of Kindi’s growth and development,” says David Gray, president of Baptist Health Louisville. “We welcome newborns every day at Baptist Health; we are there for one of the most amazing days in people’s lives. We share the joy of baby Kindi and look forward to being part of her journey.”
This gorilla birth was part of a breeding recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP). Breeding plans work to improve the genetic diversity of managed animal populations. The birth will bring the total number of western lowland gorillas at the award-winning Gorilla Forest to ten.
ABOUT WESTERN LOWLAND GORILLAS
Western lowland gorillas are considered critically endangered with 100,000 estimated to be left in the remnant wild. There are about 353 residing in 51 AZA accredited institutions in North America. Due to habitat destruction primarily caused by mining, logging and agricultural expansion, their numbers continue to decline in wild habitats. The bushmeat trade and the Ebola virus are also currently major threats. Coltan mining in particular is impacting the gorilla population. Coltan is a black metallic mineral that is used in nearly every electronic device today including cell phones. The Louisville Zoo partners with Louisville-based Eco Cell and collects old cell phones to help reduce the need for additional mining in and around gorilla habitats.
The Louisville Zoo, a non-profit organization and the State Zoo of Kentucky, is dedicated to bettering the bond between people and our planet by providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for visitors, and leadership in scientific research and conservation education. The Zoo is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) and by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).