A longtime resident of the Toronto Zoo is getting an early Father’s Day present.
The Toronto Zoo held a special ceremony on Thursday to announce that they have named a baby gorilla born on June 7 ‘Charlie’ in honour of her 46-year-old father, Charles.
The name goes against a practice of giving baby gorillas names that begin with the same letter as that of their mother but Curator of Mammals Maria Franke told reporters on Thursday that zoo staff felt it was the right time to honour Charles.
Charles, a western lowland gorilla, has resided at the Toronto Zoo since 1974, arriving just one month after it opened its doors.
“With Father’s Day this weekend we felt it was a nice way to honour our patriarch that has lived at the zoo for 44 years,” Franke said. “He was definitely overdue for a baby to be named after him. He has put a lot of work in building this family and we felt it was time for him to get some credit.”
Charles has fathered 16 children, 11 of which have been born at the Toronto Zoo.
Franke said that zoo staff are happy that his latest child is a girl as it will mean that she can stay at the Toronto Zoo for the foreseeable future.
Male offspring of gorillas often have to be relocated elsewhere as they tend to clash violently with their fathers.
“The fact that this little baby is a girl means we will be able to keep her in the zoo and in this family unit for a while,” Franke said.
Ngozi, a 20-year-old western lowland gorilla gave birth to Charlie last week.
On Thursday, Ngozi was seen holding Charlie in her arms as she tore through a box filled with pink streamers, revealing the baby’s gender.
Charles, meanwhile, helped reveal the baby’s name by chowing down on some leaves that were obscuring a sign announcing it to the public.