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North Carolina Zoo Announces Name of New Baby Chimpanzee Chosen By the Public

Posted on 04/30/2019
North Carolina Zoo Announces Name of New Baby Chimpanzee Chosen By the Public
Mom Chimp Gerre and baby chimp Obi enjoy some playtime - Photo credit, North Carolina Zoo

Asheboro, NC – The North Carolina Zoo recently asked the public to help name its newest family member - a baby boy chimpanzee born Monday, March 18.

The winning name chosen was “Obi” through an online poll on the Zoo’s website. Obi is a word of Nigerian origin meaning “one who charms others; heart.”

His name was revealed Tuesday morning at the chimp’s habitat. A banner with the winning name was printed on non-toxic paper and hidden under several layers of browse – branches, and leaves – so the chimp troop could ‘unveil’ the banner on the habitat.

However, in true sibling fashion, Obi’s older sister Genie decided to tear apart the banner and run around the habitat with the pieces. Luckily, the zookeepers captured an image of it before the chimps were out on habitat that morning.

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.

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.

The selection of other names to vote on were: 

Ayo (eye-oh): word of the Yoruba people for “full of joy or happiness”
Kojo: a word from Ghana meaning “born on Monday”
Masaka: large town in Uganda

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.

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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 NCZoo.org 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 www.ncdcr.gov.

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