As a new caregiver here at the Gorilla Foundation, I was excited to get to celebrate my first holiday with the gorillas: Koko’s 43rd birthday on July 4th! Birthdays are a big deal here, a time to celebrate the lives of our “fine gorilla people” (as Koko would say) and to get to spoil our gorillas a bit with extra treats, toys, and other enrichment items.
We worked hard to make this day special for both Koko and Ndume. I worked alongside our caregivers, managers, and volunteers to prepare special birthday meals for Koko that included healthy treats and all of her favorite vegetables (including steamed artichoke hearts and taro!).
Keeping with the theme of sustainability, I helped make flower decorations for Koko’s porch using empty water bottles, string from a re-purposed kite, and leftover paints. I also helped the other caregivers set up special enrichment for Ndume so he could join in the festivities!
We put up recycled Fourth of July decorations for him and hid small amounts of food around the yard in old boxes and empty food containers. When the big day finally arrived, it was a huge treat to watch the gorillas opening presents, playing with new toys, and eating their special birthday foods.
Seeing Koko and Ndume enjoy themselves on this day made all of our hard work worth it.
Blog by Sasha Winkler, Gorilla Caregiver / Researcher
To see more photos and videos of Koko’s birthday, visit Koko’s Birthday pages.
To send a birthday message to Koko, click here.