CONTACT: Kyle Shepherd
Direct: 502-238-5331 | Media Only: 502-744-5639
The Louisville Zoo will celebrate two important animal birthdays in early January.
January 2 at 11 a.m. Gorilla Helen’s 58th birthday at Gorilla Forest
On January 2, the Zoo will celebrate gorilla Helen’s 58th birthday. This is an important birthday in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the accrediting body for zoos in North America. Helen is the fourth oldest known gorilla in the North American population. Colo in Columbus, Ohio is the oldest at 59. Colo was born in the managed system of Zoos so her exact birthday is known, the other three females including Helen were all wild born and birthdates are estimated. The oldest male in the North American population is 55 year-old Ozoum at Zoo Atlanta. The median age for Gorillas in managed systems is 38.3.
Helen and 45 year-old Demba are in a gorilla group we affectionately call the “geriatric group.”. She and Demba share space and rotate with the other 8 gorillas in the award-winning Gorilla Forest.
Heitzman Traditional Bakery and Deli on Shelbyville road will provide a fruit cake for Helen’s birthday celebration. Festivities, including singing “Happy Birthday,” will begin at 11 a.m. at Gorilla Forest.
January 9 at 11 a.m. Polar Bear Qannik’s 5th birthday at Glacier Run
Time has flown by – it has been 5 years since we became stewards of wild-born polar bear Qannik. What a great 5 years it has been! 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) moved into a rescue operation. Qannik was underweight and unlikely to survive in the wild on her own. The opportunity to care for Qannik was decided by USFWS and the AZA. She has been at the Zoo since June 28, 2011. Because Qannik was born in the wild, her exact birthdate is unknown and officials from the USFWS assigned January 10 as her birthday. We are celebrating on Saturday the 9th so more guests can celebrate with us. Qannik is still in rotation with the four other bears at award-winning Glacier Run’s bear habitat — six year-old polar bear Siku, and our grizzly family including soon-to-be 10-year-old mother Inga and four year-old cubs Otis and Rita who turn 5 in February.
Heitzman Traditional Bakery and Deli on Shelbyville road will provide a peanut butter-iced cake for Qannik’s birthday celebration. Festivities, including singing “Happy Birthday,” will begin at 11 a.m. at Glacier Run.
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).