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And, the name is ... Franklin Park Zoo pygmy hippo calf has been named; naming auction now open to name baby gorilla

gorilla babyOne bouncing baby boy from Franklin Park Zoo’s fall baby boom has been named through a fundraising naming opportunity, and now there’s another who is ready to inspire more creativity!

A male pygmy hippo calf has been named Ptolemy, after the youngest son of Cleopatra. The little one’s name was selected by a generous donor who wishes to remain anonymous. The donor was the winner of a 10-day online auction with a winning bid of $40,600. The auction also raised an additional $2,500 in donations in honor of the hippo calf. All proceeds will benefit Zoo New England’s All for Our Animals Fund, supporting the critical animal care at Franklin Park Zoo and Stone Zoo, including healthy diets and high-quality veterinary care.

Now, the Zoo is inviting the public to show their support with a new online auction to name its western lowland gorilla baby. His arrival on October 14 marked the first ever male gorilla born at Franklin Park Zoo, and he has certainly been melting hearts ever since. Visitors to the Zoo can see him on exhibit with the rest of the gorilla troop, where he is typically being snuggled closely and attentively by mom, Kiki.

The auction, open December 4 - 13, is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the Zoo's first male gorilla’s birth by bidding for a chance to name him or by making a donation in his honor. This is a rare opportunity in that it is the first, and perhaps only time we will auction-off naming rights for a gorilla. The pygmy hippo naming auction was the first time we have auctioned off naming rights outside of our annual gala or other onsite fundraising event. All auction proceeds will benefit the All for Our Animals Fund, created in response to the financial challenges resulting from the pandemic.

The birth of this gorilla is unique in more ways than one. Not only is this Kiki's first son, he was also delivered via Cesarean section by a multidisciplinary team of veterinarians and physicians - the first delivery of this kind to occur in Franklin Park Zoo's gorilla troop. In the final few days of her pregnancy, Kiki began exhibiting signs of placenta previa, a condition where the cervix is blocked by the placenta, obstructing the baby's delivery path. Thanks to our expert veterinary team and outside specialists, Kiki was swiftly diagnosed and underwent surgery to safely deliver her baby.

Zoo New England has been a longtime supporter of gorilla conservation, devoting passion, expertise and resources to the preservation of this iconic species. Currently, Zoo New England is supporting a project to protect Cross-river gorillas in the Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary in Nigeria. Zoo New England also participates in the Western Lowland Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP), a cooperative, inter-zoo program coordinated nationally through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The Western Lowland Gorilla SSP helps to ensure the survival of gorillas in zoos and enhance conservation of this species in the wild. Kiki’s pregnancy was the result of a recommended breeding by the SSP with her mate Kitombe, affectionately known as Kit. Kiki has previously given birth to four female gorillas – her youngest two reside at Franklin Park Zoo, while her oldest two reside at other AZA-accredited zoos per breeding recommendations.

Western lowland gorillas are native to West African rainforests in the countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea, the Ivory Coast and Liberia. This endangered species faces increasing threats including shrinking natural habitat as the result of logging, farming, mining and human settlement.