Asheboro, NC - A male gorilla born Saturday at the North Carolina Zoo has been named "Bomassa" today.

In keeping with traditional policy, the naming was done by the zoo's gorilla keepers. Bomassa is a town and region in the Republic of Congo in central Africa closely associated with gorilla research.

The gorilla birth is cause for celebration not only for N.C. Zoo but also for the entire Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP®), the group responsible for the long-term sustainability of the western lowland gorilla population in North American zoos. With this birth, the Gorilla SSP moves closer to its target population size of 360 individuals in 52 zoos.

"We are thrilled to hear of this birth and very pleased to learn that (the mother) is taking such great care of her infant," said Dr. Kristen Lukas, chairperson for the Gorilla SSP.

The birth is only the second gorillas born at the N.C. Zoo and the first since the zoo's first baby gorilla, Kwanza, was born in March 1989.

The zoo is an agency of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Dee Freeman, Secretary; Beverly Eaves Perdue, Governor.