Baby gorilla makes debut at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo

OMAHA, Neb. -- Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium welcomed a baby western lowland gorilla on January 18.

The new gorilla is a male and his parents are 21-year-old Timu and 22-year-old Tambo. The mother, Timu, came to Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium from the Cincinnati Zoo in 1996. This is her fourth baby. The father, Tambo, arrived in 2001 from the Bronx Zoo and this is his first offspring.

The public is invited to help name the baby gorilla via an online naming contest. Visitors are required to donate $1 to gorilla conservation in order to submit a name. The naming contest will kick off at noon on Thursday, February 23 and submissions will be accepted until Thursday, March 2.

The gorilla’s name will be selected by the keepers that care for him and will be announced on Wednesday, March 15 on the Zoo’s website and social media. The entrant of the winning name will receive a unique Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium gift basket.

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium’s Hubbard Gorilla Valley is currently home to eight male and three female gorillas, including the new baby. Juvenile gorillas are completely dependent on the mother for the first six months. During this time the infant will hold tightly to its mother’s hair and eventually start to venture off, but mom will stay close. They will also nurse for three to four years.

Gorillas live in family groups led by a mature male identified as a silverback due to the hair on their back that develops a silver color as they age. These groups also consist of sub-adult males, adult females and their offspring. Adult males that have not developed the silver stripe yet are called blackbacks. The color change normally starts in their mid-teens.

Western lowland gorillas live in the tropical forests of western Africa, a gorilla’s diet consists of large amounts of greens as well as some vegetables and fruits. They are currently listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). The largest threat to their population is the logging industry which destroys the forest habitat.