It was a colourful day at the Wilder Institute / Calgary Zoo on Thursday, as one of their youngest turned one.
Eyare, the newest member of the Zoo’s western lowland gorilla troop, played around in the Rainforest building’s indoor gorilla enclosure with the rest of the troop to mark her first year.
It was an exciting day for the Zoo staff, who have had a front-row seat to Eyare’s growth over the past 12 months.
“We are very happy to be celebrating Eyare’s first birthday,” said Carrie Coleman, supervisor of the Rainforest habitat at the Wilder Institute / Calgary Zoo.
“She’s made it through a year and the troop is thriving.”
The animal care team at the Calgary Zoo had all sorts of goodies laid out in the enclosure for Eyare and her family. There were banana mash cupcakes to eat, tissue paper and boxes to play with, along with a whole range of colourful trinkets for enjoyment.
Coleman said the milestone is not only exciting for them to share with Calgarians, but the global community as well. The Wilder Institute / Calgary Zoo is a participant in the gorilla species survival plan, so it’s a big deal when a new animal is brought into the world.
“It’s always a major deal for us – people that work with gorillas both in captivity and those that work with them in the wild,” Coleman said.
Eyare was born to mom Dossi last year. Now, another female troop member, Yewande, is expecting to give birth in late spring.
Ongoing enrichment for the gorillas
While they were there to help usher in Eyare’s special day, Coleman said that this kind of enrichment is provided to the gorillas daily.
Coleman said the gorillas love colour.
“We make sure that they have something different every single day. Today we went overboard with things like colour – everything that Eyare would like,” she said.
Eyare likes tissue paper and other objects, things that she can wave around. But Coleman said there’s something for all the gorillas so it’s a party for everyone.
Coleman said that Eyare has good relationships with all the gorillas in the troop, not just her mom. She said there are very close bonds in the group and it makes them stronger.
“Our role here at the Wilder Institute / Calgary Zoo is a supportive role,” Coleman said.
“This troop knows what they’re doing, and they’ve done a fabulous job, obviously, in bringing this little one up and we couldn’t be happier.”
Coleman said that in any given year there can be several babies born in captivity and each one is celebrated among the zoos in the survival species program.