Celebrate with Gorilla Joanne’s 5th Birthday at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is inviting the public to a special celebration next Tuesday, March 19, 2019 at the gorilla habitat inside Gorilla Forest, in honor of gorilla Joanne. She is turning 5, marking a major milestone for a youngster once called a “miracle baby” because of the challenges she overcame following complications during her mother’s labor.

Safari Park guests are encouraged to arrive at the gorilla habitat by 9:15 a.m. March 19 to watch Joanne and her troop enjoy their myriad treats and enrichment items.

Joanne—named in honor of Joanne Warren, the first chairwoman of the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global—was born March 12, 2014 at the Safari Park’s Paul Harter Veterinary Hospital. Due to complications during mother Imani’s labor, she was born via a rare emergency C-section. Joanne spent 11 days in the hospital before being reunited with her mother and the other members of her gorilla troop. Since then, she’s made a full recovery and can be seen interacting with 2-year-old Leslie and 7-year-old Monroe on a daily basis.

Safari Park animal care staff said now that she is a juvenile, Joanne will have a new job to do. She must learn her new role and how she fits into the troop’s social dynamics.

“Each gorilla’s status in the troop is an important one, for a variety of reasons,” said Peggy Sexton, lead mammal keeper at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. “Whereas infants can get away with anything, juveniles are held to a higher standard.”

Safari Park animal care staff and volunteers have planned a special butterfly-themed celebration, in keeping with the upcoming Butterfly Jungle event at the Safari Park. Joanne will receive special enrichment that will include butterfly decorations, cardboard animals and painted gift boxes to explore. Nutritionists will prepare special gorilla treats like popcorn, sunflower seeds and dried cereal, plus a special ice “cake” filled and decorated with fruits and veggies, and colorful browse prepared by the Horticulture team. Safari Park guests are encouraged to arrive at the gorilla habitat by 9:15 a.m. March 19 to watch Joanne and her troop enjoy their myriad treats and enrichment items.

Butterfly Jungle presented by Wheelhouse Credit Union returns to the Safari Park March 23 through May 12. To learn more about this popular event, visit sdzsafaripark.org

At the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, more than 1 million guests each year see animals in herds of mixed species, in expansive habitats. Safari tours offer savanna views of African and Asian animals, trails take visitors on treks to experience Australian and North American habitats—plus, there are opportunities for up-close encounters and unique behind-the-scenes perspectives. Known for its leadership in rhino conservation, the Safari Park is home to the Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center, which is devoted to groundbreaking work to bring back the northern white rhino. As visitors discover the rare and endangered species at the Safari Park, they are directly contributing, through admission and on-grounds sales, to the efforts of San Diego Zoo Global, an international nonprofit conservation organization that works to fight extinction through recovery efforts for plants and animals worldwide. To learn more, visit sdzsafaripark.org.

Photo Courtesy of San Diego Zoo Safari Park

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