Asheboro, NC – The North Carolina Zoo is inviting the public to help name its newest family member: a baby boy chimpanzee born on Monday, March 18.

Susi Hamilton, secretary of the N.C. Dept. of Natural and Cultural Resources, announced the naming contest during a special event at the Zoo Friday, April 12 as she officially opened the Zoo’s 2019 spring season.

“Our North Carolina Zoo is a leader in animal conservation efforts here in North Carolina and throughout the world, helping to protect animals like chimpanzees, which are listed as endangered in the wild,” said Secretary Hamilton. “The Zoo’s long-term commitment to global conservation is truly making a difference in saving many species of animals from extinction.” 

The contest is open to the public to vote through the Zoo’s website The contest opens Friday, April 12 and closes Monday, April 29 at 5 p.m.

The winning name will be announced on Tuesday, April 30.

The names were chosen by zookeepers and are all of African origin: 

Ayo (eye-oh): word of the Yoruba people for “full of joy or happiness”
Kojo: word from Ghana meaning “born on Monday”
Masaka: large town in Uganda
Obi: word of Nigerian origin meaning “one who charms others; heart”

This birth is significant because there have only been two other successful chimp births at Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)-accredited zoos in the past two years. The Zoo’s chimpanzee troop is one of the larger troops in AZA zoos in the United States.

Chimpanzees are listed as endangered in the wild. The North Carolina Zoo is actively involved in wild chimpanzee conservation in Uganda’s Kibale National Park, which boasts the largest chimpanzee population in East Africa.


About the North Carolina Zoo

At the North Carolina Zoo, we celebrate nature. As the world’s largest natural habitat Zoo, we inspire a lifelong curiosity about animals for the hundreds of thousands of people who visit our Zoo each year. Our dedicated team of experts provides exceptional, compassionate care for the more than 1,600 animals and 52,000 plants that call our Park home. We also lead efforts locally and globally to protect wildlife and wild places because we believe nature’s diversity is critical for our collective future. The North Carolina Zoo invites all of our guests to witness the majesty of the wild in the heart of North Carolina and welcomes everyone to join in our mission to protect nature’s diversity. Visit to begin your life-changing journey.

About the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state’s natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. NCDNCR’s mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the state’s history, conserving the state’s natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development.

NCDNCR includes 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, two science museums, three aquariums and Jennette’s Pier, 39 state parks and recreation areas, the North Carolina Zoo, the nation's first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, along with the Division of Land and Water Stewardship. For more information, please call 919- 807-7300 or visit