World’s Second Oldest Gorilla Celebrates Her 60th Birthday

| November 3, 2017 | 0 Comments

Vila enjoys her birthday cake.

Gorilla birthdays are always a momentous occasion at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, but today’s (Oct. 24) festivities were especially significant. Vila (pronounced VEE-la), the world’s second oldest gorilla, celebrated her 60th birthday with a joyful party that included all nine members of her family at the Safari Park, including a second birthday girl—one-year old Leslie. Both gorillas enjoyed an elaborate “Tea for Two” themed party, complete with a plethora of decorations, gift boxes, streamers and a little cardboard castle. Animal care staff and volunteers stuffed paper cups and gourds with popcorn, sunflower seeds and Cheerios for the entire troop to enjoy, and nutrition staff placed six multicolored cakes—made of yams, carrots and assorted fruits—around the habitat, making this one of the most elaborate parties ever thrown for this gorilla troop.

Gorillas are listed as Critically Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Threats to the species include people hunting gorillas for food, called bushmeat, and loss of habitat due to logging and mining. The past 15 years have seen a dramatic decline in gorilla numbers, with almost half of the entire eastern gorilla species population believed to have been wiped out. San Diego Zoo Global has partnered with multiple organizations and local conservationists in Uganda, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Cameroon to shed light on gorilla genetic variations across regions, and to promote community-led conservation initiatives.

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