Brookfield, Ill.–Nora, a western lowland gorilla at Brookfield Zoo turned 1 year old today, Nov. 4, and she and the rest of the gorilla group were treated to nutritious sugar-free gelatin cakes filled with bananas, apples, and grapes. Guests were also invited to sing “Happy Birthday” and sign a card for Nora.

Over the past year, Nora has become increasingly independent, climbing trees and vines with ease. Her mother, 19-year-old Koola, has allowed her to explore her surroundings with less oversight. She is interacting with all troop members, including her half-sister 10-year-old Kamba, who occasionally carries Nora on her back. She has become more curious about her dad JoJo, who is 34 years old, and she sometimes gets a little closer to him. JoJo has shown interest in previous offspring, so it is likely that he will soon start interacting with Nora.

In recent months, Nora’s baby teeth have grown in and she has begun sampling some of the adults’ food items. Her body hair has grown in more thickly and she is filling out and becoming more muscular. She was about 3½ pounds at birth and now weighs close to 12 pounds.

Nora received her name, which means “honor” or “light” following a naming contest in which the zoo received more than 70,000 votes online.

Western lowland gorillas are considered critically endangered. It is not known how many western lowland gorillas survive in their native West Africa (the forests of Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Nigeria, Congo, and Angola). The main causes for their status are increasing Ebola virus outbreaks, increasing commercial hunting, and continued habitat destruction due to logging, mining, and agriculture. Poverty and long-term civil unrest add to the difficulty of addressing these causes. Eventually, increased forest fires in response to drier forests in a warming world may become a significant threat.

The Chicago Zoological Society inspires conservation leadership by connecting people with wildlife and nature. The Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for Brookfield Zoo’s innovative, naturalistic, multispecies exhibits and for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. For further information, visit