June 14, 2018 11:03 am
Updated: June 14, 2018 8:45 pm

Toronto Zoo reveals newest addition to gorilla family is a girl

The Toronto Zoo revealed the name and gender of its newest baby gorilla on Thursday, naming it Charlie after it's father Charles – just in time for Father's Day.


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.

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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.

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“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.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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