ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - The new, baby gorilla at Zoo Atlanta is a month old and zoo officials say he and his mom are thriving.
Zoo guests will get the opportunity to see Willie B., III on Saturday during the zoo’s annual Brew at the Zoo fundraising event.
Cradled by his mother, Shalia, Willie B., III, who was born on April 24, 2023, wowed guests as the primates gathered food in Gorilla Habitat 4 of the Zoo’s Ford African Rain Forest. In total, there are five gorilla habitats, but zoo officials warn that guests aren’t guaranteed they’ll be able to see Willie B., III at every visit.
“They just look like they are statues,” said Jade Greene, a zoo guest from Atlanta. “It’s pretty cool. The fact that another animal, not human, has that same instinct to care for their child.”
Son to Willie B. Jr., the baby gorilla is named after his late grandfather, the legendary Willie B., who spent nearly half his life in an indoor environment until the zoo created an outdoor enclosure back in the 80s.
Jodi Carrigan, curator of primates at Zoo Atlanta, says Willie B., III looks just like his mom Shalia, who is super protective.
“Mom is great and super maternal,” said Carrigan. “So, we just let them be. Right now, he only has about two different vocalizations. He has the I’m hungry and I’m uncomfortable. So, she sets him down in a different position and he says no I don’t like that.”
In all, gorillas have about 20 different vocalizations by the time they reach adulthood.
Zoo Atlanta is home to one of North America’s largest populations of gorillas. Usually around 20. Carrigan says these types of gorillas are critically endangered.
During Memorial Day weekend, Zoo Atlanta is holding their annual Brew at the Zoo fundraiser. Guests will possibly catch a glimpse of Willie B., III and at the same time, help the zoo raise money for the zoo’s education and conservation efforts.
Zoo Atlanta will also debut their Willie B. Legacy Lager. The event is happening on Saturday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. You can find ticket information here.
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