The Toronto Zoo revealed on Thursday that its newest addition to its gorilla family is a girl named Charlie — named after her father Charles — just in time for Father’s Day.
Twenty-year-old Western Lowland gorilla Ngozi gave birth to the baby girl on June 7, according to zoo officials, who said the species is critically endangered.
While baby gorillas are usually given names with the first initial of their mother’s name, zookeeper Ali Vella-Irving told Global News the zoo felt it was time to honour Charles.
“Especially with Father’s Day this weekend, we felt it was a nice break to honour our silverback, our patriarch,” she said.
The 46-year-old silverback male has been part of the Toronto Zoo for over 44 years, coming even before the zoo was open as an orphan.
The baby is Ngozi’s third — she is also mother to nine-year-old Nassir and four-year-old Nneka — and is the 11th of the endangered species to be fathered by Charles.
Staff are even more pleased that baby Charlie was a girl because this means she will be able to stay at the zoo for the foreseeable future.
Gorilla families can only have one adult male, so at a certain point — usually when the boys go through puberty- they have to be separated, Vella-Irving said.
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“It’s what happens in the wild — they pose a threat to the silverback, even though he is their father,” she said.
Ngozi helped with the reveal by opening a box filled with pink streamers while Charles did his duty by chomping down on leaves that were covering a sign that read “Charlie.”
Ngozi, Charles and baby can be seen in the African Rainforest Pavilion, the zoo said.