SF Zoo baby gorilla name contest

February 13, 2009 8:38:36 AM PST
The San Francisco Zoo announced today the establishment of a "Name the Baby Contest" for a gorilla that was born in the zoo in December.

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The contest will run through March 5, and entrants are asked to give the gorilla a distinguished name of African origin because of its western lowland origins, according to zoo officials.

A panel of judges appointed by the zoo will choose five finalists in the contest, and each name will be connected individually to five colored bamboo sticks. The zoo's silverback gorilla, Oscar Jonesy, will then choose one worldwide winner at random.

The grand prize winner will receive a family membership for the zoo closest to the winner's place of residency, a framed photo of the infant gorilla with an original footprint, a 30-minute meet-the-keeper experience on the phone or in person, a large gorilla plush, and San Francisco Zoo memorabilia.

The zoo also announced today a baby shower registry with gorilla-appropriate gifts for the infant and the zoo's gorilla troop, and unveiled a "Nursery Cam" that gives interested guests a behind-the-scenes look at the baby gorilla and the veterinary staff.

The baby gorilla's birth mother, Monifa, detached herself from her infant almost immediately after giving birth on Dec. 8, according to zoo officials.

The veterinary staff has placed the baby gorilla in the care of human caregivers and are training a surrogate mother, Bawang, to take her place.

"Surrogate training for Bawang is going extremely well, but it's an incredibly long process," Corinne MacDonald, curator of primates at the zoo, said in a prepared statement.

"We don't know when Bawang and the infant will be ready for a debut, but we want to share him with all our zoo visitors," MacDonald said.

For more information on the name contest, the gift registry, or to see the "Nursery Cam," visit http://www.sfzoo.org. The Web site is updated regularly with new photos, video and information on the progress of the infant gorilla, according to zoo officials.

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