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Papa gorilla chooses name 'Nneka' for female baby born at Toronto Zoo

A baby gorilla sits with her mother at the Toronto Zoo in this recent handout photo.A Papa gorilla has chosen the name 'Nneka' for a female baby born at the Toronto Zoo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Toronto Zoo/Corrina Aimers

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A baby gorilla sits with her mother at the Toronto Zoo in this recent handout photo.A Papa gorilla has chosen the name 'Nneka' for a female baby born at the Toronto Zoo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Toronto Zoo/Corrina Aimers

TORONTO - Choosing a name for the Toronto Zoo's newest gorilla has turned out to be a family affair.

The zoo says Charles, the Western lowland gorilla silverback who sired the female baby born Jan. 10, chose her name out of three possible contenders.

Charles was presented with three displays, each showing a potential name along with treats such as fruit, nuts, palm leaves and bamboo.

After considering the displays, Charles chose the one with the name Nneka, which means "supreme," "renowned" or "prominent."

Nia and Nyota rounded out the trio of names drawn from more than 10,000 public submissions and then narrowed down by a panel of judges.

The zoo says the almost four-month-old baby is the second born to mother Ngozi and the 10th offspring sired by Charles.

It says Nneka is genetically significant for the North American Western lowland gorilla population since it is a critically endangered species.

The zoo had asked people to try to come up with names that were African and that started with the letter "N" in keeping with the tradition of naming baby gorillas with the first letter of the mother's name.

Zoo staff say Ngozi has taken to motherhood very well and can be seen tenderly holding her daughter and patiently managing her son, Nassir, who appears to be curious about his new sibling.

"We are thrilled to have Nneka join our gorilla troop and become part of our successful breeding program," said Maria Franke, curator of mammals at the zoo.

The zoo has seven gorillas. The three adults are Charles, Josephine and Ngozi while the four young are Johari (female, born 2001), Sadiki (male, born 2005), Nassir (male, born 2009) and Nneka (female, born 2014).

The zoo also went to the public earlier this year to help name a polar bear cub born in November. The name Humphrey was the eventual winner after more than 14,000 people voted.

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