San Diego Zoo Safari Park hosts gorilla birthday celebration

ESCONDIDO (KUSI) – The San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park will host a birthday celebration Tuesday for Joanne, one of the gorillas in its Gorilla Forest habitat.

The Safari Park is celebrating Joanne’s fifth birthday, a significant milestone after Joanne dealt with complications that sent her to the hospital for 11 days shortly after her birth by emergency C-section. Since then, she has fully recovered and now must learn what is required of a juvenile in a gorilla troop.

“Each gorilla’s status in the troop is an important one, for a variety of reasons,” said Peggy Sexton, the Safari Park’s lead mammal keeper. “Whereas infants can get away with anything, juveniles are held to a higher standard.”

The Safari Park held a butterfly-themed birthday celebration for Joanne in advance of its new Butterfly Jungle event, which begins March 23. Joanne and the rest of her troop received treats like popcorn, dried cereal, sunflower seeds and fruits and vegetables.

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