Como Zoo's new gorilla is named Nyati - Bring Me The News

Como Zoo's new gorilla is named Nyati

Voters named Como Zoo's baby gorilla after a magical animal.
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For now Nyati spends all of her time on the chest of her mother, Alice.

For now Nyati spends all of her time on the chest of her mother, Alice.

Her one month birthday is coming up on Saturday and now Como Zoo's new gorilla has a name: Nyati. 

Weekend visitors to the St. Paul zoo voted for the name over Lucy and Rocky, which were the other choices on the ballot. The zoo said Monday Nyati – it's pronounced "nee-AH-tee" – won in a landslide, getting more than 60 percent of the votes. 

Nyati is the Swahili word for unicorn. 

A zoo spokesman told the Star Tribune zookeepers suggested the name because the baby gorilla is magical and beautiful.

Nyati and Alice

Nyati and Alice

You won't be able to see her for awhile

There's no timeline for when zoo visitors will be able to get a look at Nyati. 

Right now she and her mother, Alice, need some bonding time and they'll stay out of the public eye while they're getting that.

Newborn gorillas weigh four or five pounds and they're pretty helpless, the zoo says. They normally cling to their mother's chest non-stop for about three months.

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By the time they're six months old they may start riding on her back or stepping onto the ground near Mom. 

Mothers are very protective of their babies at this stage and don't want other gorillas in the troop to get too close. 

“Mom will let other family members see the baby and they will take their cues from mom as to how close they can be,” senior zookeeper Jo Kelly said in Como's statement. 

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Alice, who's 15, is one of three females who live with Nyati's dad Schroeder, the 31-year-old silverback who is the big guy at Como. The family also includes a 2-year-old that Schroeder fathered with one of the other females. 

Three other male gorillas, all of them 18, live in a separate bachelor troop at Como.

Gorillas are critically endangered

Western lowland gorillas like Nyati and her family are native to central and western Africa. They are critically endangered, mainly because of hunting, habitat loss, and diseases including ebola. 

Como is among more than 50 zoos that are part of a Species Survival Plan with the goal of maintaining enough genetic diversity for gorillas to stay healthy.

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