Baby gorilla at Bristol Zoo Gardens celebrates her first birthday

April 29 2018
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Bristol Zoo’s youngest gorilla has celebrated her first birthday with balloon piñatas filled with her favourite herbs and vegetables.

Ayana, who was born on April 22 last year to mother Touni, is thriving at the 181-year-old zoo, which is home to a troop of six other western lowland gorillas.

It is likely that Ayana, whose name means ‘pretty flower’ in Hebrew, will need her mother’s milk for the next three years and will stay by her side while she grows and develops.

Lynsey Bugg, curator of mammals at Bristol Zoo Gardens, said:  “Ayana is a wonderful member of our already close-knit troop. She has a lovely, close relationship with her mother and can often be seen  playing with other members the rest of our troop, particularly two-year-old Afia with whom she has formed a strong bond.”

It is expected that Ayana will stay with her mother until she reaches sexual maturity at around eight, before moving on to another zoo to further the captive breeding programme for this Critically Endangered species.

The troop is led by 34-year-old western lowland silverback, Jock, six-year-old male Kukena,  adult females Romina, Kera, Touni and two-year-old Afia.

Lynsey added: “Ayana has become an integral  member of our gorilla family. It’s important for them to have a mix of ages within the group  to provide a very natural gorilla social structure. 

“Ayana needs to learn and understand learns the importance of gorilla social hierarchies, how to behave around other females and how to show respect to Jock, the leader of the troop. All of these will be valuable skills as she grows into an adult. “

The zoo’s western lowland gorillas are part of the European captive breeding programme and are classified as Critically Endangered.

Bristol Zoo Gardens is a conservation and education charity and relies on the generous support of the public not only to fund its important work in the zoo but also its vital conservation and research projects spanning five continents.

The special balloon shaped pinatas were all made by volunteers at Bristol Zoo.

For more information about visiting Bristol Zoo Gardens, visit the website at www.bristolzoo.org.uk or phone 0117 974 7300.