Asheboro, NC - You only get to celebrate a baby's first birthday once. But two of the North Carolinas Zoo's most popular animals will be celebrating that special first anniversary together.

Bomassa and Apollo, baby gorillas that both arrived in August 2012, will get a special zoo birthday party on Saturday, August 3, and the public is invited. The festivities begin at 9:30 a.m. at the Forest Glade gorilla exhibit with African music by The Healing Force. Between 9:30 and 10 a.m. the gorilla youngsters will receive special birthday treats. 

Special feedings for all the gorillas will begin at 11:30 a.m. with gorilla keepers available to meet with visitors and answer questions until 1:30 p.m. The party will conclude at 2:30 p.m. when everyone is invited to sing Happy Birthday to the thriving youngsters.

It was a rare event for an American zoo to have two gorillas born less than a month apart. On average, only five gorillas are born in accredited U.S. zoos each year. Female gorilla Jamani gave birth to Bomassa on August 4, 2012, representing the first gorilla born at the State Zoo in 23 years. That was followed by Olympia's delivery of Apollo on August 31.

The father of both infants is Nkosi, a 20-year-old male who arrived at the N.C. Zoo from the Columbus Zoo in March 2008. All three adult gorillas were brought to the N.C. Zoo and recommended for breeding as part of the Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP) of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The SSPs have been developed by AZA to improve the care and breeding of animals in captivity and currently includes plans for more than 500 species.

The N.C. Zoo's first baby gorilla was born in March 1989. Kwanza was transferred in1998 to Chicagos Lincoln Park Zoo as part of the Gorilla SSP and has since fathered two offspring of his own.

But the August 3 party is a celebration of the two latest arrivals that over their first year have perhaps become the zoos most popular animals.

The zoo is located on Zoo Parkway (N.C. 159) six miles southeast of Asheboro off U.S. 64 and U.S. 220. Admission is $12 for adults, $8 for children 2-12 and $10 for seniors 62-plus. Summer operating hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. For information, visit the zoo website at or call 1-800-488-0444.

The zoo is an agency of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, John E. Skvarla, III, Secretary; Pat McCrory, Governor.