Sibling Milestones


Philadelphia Zoo's western lowland gorilla youngsters continue to grow! Amani and Ajabu are happily growing up together as any siblings would! Ajabu recently broke contact with mom, Kira and can often be seen venturing off in his exhibit under his mother's close eye. Amani, too, surprises Zoo staff and guests each day as she continues to grow and develop her adventurous and inquisitive personality. Guests may often see Amani take an interest in her younger brother or spending more time with dad, Motuba. 

The Sibling Scoop


Approaching her first birthday, Amani is more adventurous than ever often climbing and swinging from the topmost part of her exhibit on her own. Her keepers also note more frequent interactions with Motuba, her very patient and gentle father - he even tolerates her licking his feet, which she is known to do on occasion!
Amani recently welcomed a half-brother, Ajabu. Although he's been quite alert since birth, Ajabu grows more aware of his surroundings each day and is already attempting to reach out and touch the mesh or his keepers during protected contact training sessions with mom, Kira.
Kira remains very protective of her first-born son and he’s proven to be a confident gorilla, already attempting to climb out of Kira’s secure embrace. Zoo staff has not seen Kira put Ajabu down yet, but guests may notice she does have him practice sitting up in her lap as he begins to grow stronger. Our primate keepers expect she'll break contact with him soon and he'll likely begin crawling within the next month - another important milestone for Kira's youngster.

Philadelphia Zoo Names New Baby Gorilla


baby gorilla(Philadelphia, PA) - June 28, 2017 --- Today, Philadelphia Zoo’s gorilla family chose a name for its newest addition: a western lowland gorilla baby boy born to Kira, the Zoo’s 17-year-old female and 32-year old Motuba on June 2nd. The Zoo partnered with the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center (GRACE) in the Democratic Republic of Congo and its Congolese youth and conservation club to generate a list of names that signify the importance of this amazing birth. The group submitted ten names and zookeepers narrowed the list down to three:
  • Wasingya (Wa-SEEN-jah; meaning: Thank you very much)
  • Lwanzo (La-WAN-zoh; meaning: Love)
  • Ajabu (ah-JAH-boo; meaning: Miracle; wonderful, amazing thing)
The Zoo then gave the newborn’s parents the opportunity to make the final selection. How you might ask?? Zookeeper’s decorated boxes adorned with names and filled with them treats; the first box chosen would be the baby’s name. Mom Kira ventured out first and chose the box with name Ajabu, on the front, which means miracle in Swahili.

Ajabu, the Zoo’s the healthy baby boy was delivered on June 2nd by a team of professionals, from the veterinary and human medical field, including an ob-gyn, surgeons, anesthesiologists and others, from leading area institutions such as University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Presbyterian Hospital and Thomas Jefferson University Hospital using the same process, tools and techniques used for human deliveries, including forceps and episiotomy. 

“We are very happy that Ajabu’s mom Kira chose her first offspring’s name,” says Dr. Andy Baker, Philadelphia Zoo’s Chief Operating Officer. “Kira is doing a fantastic job as a first time mom, and mom and baby are both doing great,” says Baker.

Western lowland gorillas are listed as Critically Endangered in the wild by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with threats including habitat destruction due to palm oil and timber plantations as global demand for palm oil and paper continues to rise. The Zoo works with the Species Survival Plan® (SSP) program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), whose goal is to protect and sustain populations of endangered and other species across AZA zoos.

The newborn currently lives in PECO Primate Reserve with mom Kira, dad Motuba and other troop mates Honi and her baby Amani. All new babies at Philadelphia Zoo are hugged by St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. To see all the new babies at Philadelphia Zoo, visit To learn more about St. Christopher’s, visit or call 1-888-CHRISKIDS (247-4754). Find them on social media at,, on Instagram at @stchrishospital and Twitter at @stchrishospital.


Congolese Students Select Names for Kira's Baby


Philadelphia Zoo is pleased to, once again, partner with Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center (GRACE) to name our baby gorilla born on June 2. As part of GRACE’s education mission, the gorilla sanctuary works with Congolese youth and their conservation clubs to foster wildlife protection and advocacy.

Upon learning about Philadelphia Zoo, Kira and her baby, these young students selected a list of names each signifying the importance of this amazing birth.  After much anticipation, the names are in and we’re happy to announce the final list and the meanings behind the names selected:

Wasingya (“thanks”) to thank Kira for giving birth to her baby.
Lwanzo (“love”) because Kira was happy to see her baby.
Ajabu (“miracle”) because it is a miracle that an animal gives birth with assistance.
From this list, we’re enlisting the help of another special group to choose Kira’s baby’s name! Stay tuned!   

Picking a Name for Kira's Baby Boy


Philadelphia Zoo is delighted to announce Kira and her baby boy are doing well after the unconventional and lifesaving delivery of the newborn performed on June 2. We are now happily looking forward to the next order of business – Kira’s baby needs a name! Last year, we enlisted the help of our global community to name Honi’s baby, Amani, using the opportunity to support gorilla conservation and highlight the plight of critically endangered gorillas in their natural habitats. We have, once again, proudly partnered with the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education (GRACE) Center in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a sanctuary that rehabilitates Grauer’s gorillas whose families were killed by poachers. Grauer’s gorillas are endemic to eastern DRC and critically endangered; only 3,800 remain in the wild.

As part of its education mission, GRACE works with 140 Congolese youth (ages 9-13) organized into seven conservation clubs. These clubs encourage kids to be conservation leaders in their communities and to take local conservation actions, such as growing and planting trees to discourage the destruction of gorilla habitat.

choosing namesThis year we are thrilled to support GRACE’s conservation clubs, and have requested the kids’ help in selecting a name for Kira’s baby. Conservation club members learned about Philadelphia Zoo’s gorilla troop and our newborn’s birth, brainstorming, debating and selecting a list of Swahili and Kinande (local language) names for the Zoo’s newest addition.

As gorilla conservationists of the future, these children have an important role to play in protecting Grauer’s gorillas, and we’re humbled to have the opportunity to partner with them to help name our newborn gorilla. Organizations like GRACE are on the front lines of gorilla conservation and are critical to saving these great apes from extinction. Selecting Kira’s baby name with one provided by these students reinforces the connection we all have to animals across the globe and our responsibility to protect and safe-guard their survival. 

Now that we have a list of names to choose from, (we will be announcing the final three names soon) the final step is settling in on one name. For this, we will be enlisting the help of another group…but you’ll have to wait a few days to find out just who this group is.

So, stay tuned!

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