A female Western Lowland Gorilla born to mom Kudzoo on September 18, at Zoo Atlanta, has been named Mijadala.
The infant’s new moniker emerged as the winner of public vote in a contest conducted from Tuesday, January 31 through Monday, February 6. Voting cast for the new name raised more funds for Gorilla conservation than did three other names in the running: Adia, Fahari and Tisa. Zoo Atlanta invited the public to back each vote with a $1 donation, and all funds raised by the naming will benefit the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, the Zoo’s longtime partner in Gorilla conservation.
“Every newborn Gorilla is a gift, both in the wild and within zoological populations, and it’s very important to raise awareness of the ways the future of these populations intersect,” said Raymond B. King, President and CEO. “With the gift of Mijadala’s birth, we’re excited to also be able to send a celebratory gift to field programs that are working every day for the protection of wild gorillas and their habitats in Africa.”
The name Mijadala, which means “discussions” in Swahili, was inspired by the infant’s unusually vocal nature; her caregivers say she is the most vocal Gorilla infant ever born at the Zoo. Mijadala, or “Mija” for short, is the 23rd Gorilla born in Zoo Atlanta’s Ford African Rain Forest and is a granddaughter of the legendary late Willie B. She is the ninth offspring of silverback Taz and has two full siblings: Merry Leigh, 5, and Macy Baby, 11. Macy Baby now lives at the Riverbanks Zoo & Garden in Columbia, S.C..
Western Lowland Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) populations in the wild have declined dramatically since the time of Willie B., the founder of Mijadala’s famous Zoo Atlanta family tree. The species is currently classified as “Critically Endangered”, and according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), over a 25-year period, the combined threats of poaching, illegal hunting for the bush meat trade, habitat loss and emerging diseases such as Ebola have reduced Western Lowland Gorilla populations by 60 percent, with declines of as much as 90 percent in some parts of their range in western Africa.