Baby gorilla at Bristol Zoo named after parents

Rod Minchin, PA
·2-min read

A four-month-old baby gorilla has been named Juni – after his mother and father.

The tiny western lowland gorilla was given the name following a poll of staff and volunteers at Bristol Zoo who opted for the one which combined those of his parents, Jock and Touni.

Touni, 13, gave birth naturally to Juni in the early hours of December 22, with father Jock and the rest of the family troop nearby.

He is Touni’s second baby, as she gave birth to big sister Ayana – who still lives at the zoo – in April 2017.

Juni will not be weaned until he is around four years old (Ben Birchall/PA)
Juni will not be weaned until he is around four years old (Ben Birchall/PA)

Lynsey Bugg, the zoo’s curator of mammals, said: “This is a lovely way of recognising both his parents and their part in helping to safeguard the future of western lowland gorillas.

“Every animal birth is important to us, but gorillas are a firm favourite with many of our visitors and are an integral part of Bristol Zoo.”

Juni has mainly been away from public view since his birth due to lockdown but visitors will be able to see him from Monday as the zoo reopens.

Gorilla babies usually remain with their mother until the age of three or four, sharing a nest and feeding until then.

Mother Touni keeps a close eye on her baby (Ben Birchall/PA)
Mother Touni keeps a close eye on her baby (Ben Birchall/PA)

From four to six months, they begin to nibble on small pieces of food and learn how to walk and climb.

“Juni is doing very well. He’s alert and seems eager to progress. He’s often seen feeding so he’s had a great start to life,” Ms Bugg said.

“He’s just started trying to master walking. He’s wobbly but can stand and is just starting to try and take the odd step and gradually begin to walk. He is also beginning to try solid food.”

Juni is important in helping to safeguard the future of western lowland gorillas, which are critically endangered in the wild.

The gorilla will soon be learning how to walk and crawl (Ben Birchall/PA)
The baby gorilla will soon be learning how to walk and crawl (Ben Birchall/PA)

Bristol Zoological Society, which operates both Bristol Zoo Gardens and the Wild Place Project, is part of an internationally important breeding and conservation programme.

For more than 20 years, the society has supported a sanctuary in Cameroon which helps look after orphaned gorillas and chimpanzees.

Gorillas are hunted for their meat and their young are regularly taken and sold as pets, often to end up abandoned or dying of starvation.

Last year, Bristol Zoological Society – a registered charity – launched a fundraising appeal to support its work during the pandemic.