The Louisville Zoo kicks off the new year with two very special animal birthdays.
First up, the Zoo will celebrate Gorilla Helen on her big 60th birthday in Gorilla Forest on Sat., Jan. 6 at noon. This is especially significant as the median age of gorillas in a managed program of an Association of Zoos and Aquarium (AZA) facility is 38.3 years-old. In the remnant wild the average age is 35.
The Zoo will celebrate polar bear Qannik’s 7th birthday on Sat., Jan. 13 at 11:15 a.m. at Glacier Run. Zoo guests will be invited to sing “Happy Birthday.” Each animal will also receive special birthday enrichment items.
ABOUT HELEN | Helen is the third oldest known gorilla in the North American population. She is wild born, so her birth date is estimated. The median age for gorillas in managed systems is 38.3. Helen is in a gorilla group with 47-year-old Demba. Helen is Kindi’s great-great-grandmother. Western lowland gorillas are considered critically endangered with an estimated 100,000 left in the remnant wild
ABOUT QANNIK | Qannik made national headlines when she was found on Alaska’s North Slope in 2011 separated from her mother and sibling. After several days of monitoring her in hopes that she would reunite with the other bears, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) began a rescue operation. Qannik was under weight and likely hadn’t learned vital skills to survive on her own. She has been at the Louisville Zoo’s award-winning Glacier Run exhibit since June 28, 2011. Because Qannik was born in the wild her exact birthdate is unknown. Officials from the USFWS assigned January 10 as her birthday. Qannik is still in rotation with the three other bears at Glacier Run — a grizzly family including Inga and her cubs Otis and Rita (though Inga is exhibited separately).
The Louisville Zoo, a non-profit organization and state zoo of Kentucky, is dedicated to bettering the bond between people and our planet by providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for visitors, and leadership in scientific research and conservation education. The Zoo is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) and by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).