Who ape all the cake? Adorable baby gorilla celebrates first birthday with presents and sweet treats

September 27, 2012 | by | 0 Comments

This baby gorilla had to have a little help from mum as he opened his presents – at his first birthday party.

Adorable Kukena tentatively perched on proud mum Salome’s shoulders as she showed him how to rip open his gifts.

The pair then tucked into a feast of their favourite foods – which had been wrapped up – and a slice of birthday fruit cake as a special treat.

Kukena the one year old Western Lowland Gorilla plays with wrapping paper as he celebrates his first birthday

Kukena the one year old Western Lowland Gorilla plays with wrapping paper as he celebrates his first birthday

The whole family gather round and watch in amazement as the youngster revels in the attention

The whole family gather round and watch in amazement as the youngster revels in the attention

Baby western lowland gorilla Kukena, who lives at Bristol Zoo Gardens, weighs just 15lbs and stands at a tiny 45cm tall.

He has just started eating soft fruits such as blueberries, grapes and banana, and is beginning to explore his compound away from mum Salome.

The baby gorilla did not leave his mother’s side for the first seven months of his life before he began to walk on his own.

Lynsey Bugg, assistant curator of mammals at Bristol Zoo Gardens, said: “Kukena has come a long way over the past 12 months, he is becoming a proper little adventurer and loves to sneak off to explore when mum isn’t looking.

Bristol Zoo staff hang wrapping paper on the den of Kukena as they get ready for his party

Bristol Zoo staff hang wrapping paper on the den of Kukena as they get ready for his party

This birthday cake made for the tiny ape, who weighs around 7kg and stands at around 45cm tall, might help him to pile on a few pounds

This birthday cake made for the tiny ape, who weighs around 7kg and stands at around 45cm tall, might help him to pile on a few pounds

“Salome is a fantastic mum and is still very protective of her baby boy and keeps a close eye on him as he is still a bit too young to play with the other young gorillas as they tend to like a bit of rough and tumble.

“Kukena still takes his mother’s milk but has started eating solids too.

“He loves soft, sweet fruits such as blueberries, grapes and banana, and also like avocado, so we have given him plenty of these to celebrate his birthday today.”

Salome and Kukena live in Bristol Zoo’s Gorilla Island and his silverback dad Jock, who is also father to Namoki, six, Komale, five, Kera, seven.

The Zoo’s other adult female gorilla, Romina, also lives on the Island.

Kukena was born on September 27 last year by natural birth to mum-of-three Salome.

Kukena perches on his mother's shoulders while she dips into his freshly wrapped present

Kukena perches on his mother’s shoulders while she dips into his freshly wrapped present

The tot looks into an empty box after his mother Salome pinched most of his celebratory birthday present

The tot looks into an empty box after his mother Salome pinched most of his celebratory birthday present

His name means ‘to love’ and comes from the language of the Lunda Tribe from North West Zambia, in the Congo, where western lowland gorillas are found in the wild.

Kukena’s birth is part of an international conservation breeding programme for western lowland gorilla, which is a critically endangered species.

Bristol Zoo is currently carrying out a £1 million project to transform and enlarge its gorilla house to double the amount of space for the growing family.

The new enclosure, set to open next summer, will include climbing facilities, ropes and play equipment and a shallow indoor pool.

There will also be additional ‘dens’ for the gorillas with a weighing scale built into the floor and an improved speaker system for keepers and guest.

Kukena is available to adopt by members of the public, along with his brother Komale. For more information, visit www.bristolzoo.org.uk/adoptions or phone 0117 974 7300.

Category: News, Pictures

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