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I wonder if they will have a naming ceremony for Kukena!

Bristol Zoo baby gorilla named Kukena – ‘to love’By The Editor of Bristol 24/7Oct 6, 2011 Kukena is cradled by mum Solene at Bristol Zoo (Picture: Bob Pitchford)

The baby western lowland gorilla born at Bristol Zoo Gardens last week has been named Kukeña and will be available for adoption.The name, pronounced ‘Kookenga’, means ‘to love’ and comes from the language of the Lunda Tribe from North West Zambia.

The tribe originates from the Congo, where Western Lowland Gorillas are found in the wild.The name was picked live on air on BBC1’s The One Show this week, from names submitted by viewers. The name Kukeña was chosen by Nina Wadia who plays Zainab Masood in EastEnders.Kukeña was born just over a week ago, on Tuesday, September 27, by natural birth to Salome, and both mother and baby are doing well.

The youngster is the perfect gift for the Zoo, which this year celebrates its 175th birthday and is participating the European Zoo Association’s Ape Campaign, which aims to raise funds and awareness of the threats facing gorillas in the wild.Senior Curator of Animals, John Partridge, said: “Salome and Kukeña continue to do well – Kukeña is bright-eyed and alert and we have observed the baby suckling well on numerous occasions, which is a very good sign.“It is still too early to determine the sex of the baby as Salome keeps it very close and we are keen to give the gorillas space.

Therefore we wanted a unisex name that would suit either a baby boy or girl, and Kukeña has a lovely meaning.“Salome continues to demonstrate good mothering behaviour and it is lovely to see her cradling and cuddling her baby affectionately. Naturally the gorilla keepers will keep a very close eye on mother and baby in these crucial first few weeks to ensure that they, along with the rest of the gorilla group, are healthy, content and bonding well.

”This is the third baby Salome has had at Bristol Zoo. Her last baby, Komale, was born in December 2006 following a course of ground-breaking fertility treatment, pioneered by Bristol Zoo’s former head vet, Sharon Redrobe.

This time however, Salome conceived her baby naturally.The gorillas at Bristol Zoo are part of an international conservation breeding programme for the western lowland gorilla, which is a critically endangered species.All gorilla species are facing serious losses in the wild caused by a number of issues including forest destruction for logging, diseases such as ebola and the slaughter of primates for the illegal bushmeat trade.

Bristol Zoo Gardens has, for many years, supported Ape Action Africa, a charity working hard to prevent primate extinction in Cameroon, through caring for confiscated orphans of the bushmeat trade, and educating people about the bushmeat trade and habitat destruction.