North Carolina Zoo Announces Naming Contest for Rare Baby Chimpanzee


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.