When Joanne the gorilla turned 5, zookeepers at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park decided to ape a human birthday party for her.
And it was bananas ― especially the cake.
According to lead keeper Peggy Sexton, the birthday is a big milestone in a gorilla’s life because she’s transitioning from an infant into juvenile.
“When they’re juvenile, they have to start toeing the line a little bit,” Sexton said in the premiere episode of “The Zoo: San Diego,” a new series debuting Saturday on Animal Planet. “They learn more about their role in the troop, and of course, every cake is for Winston, who thinks they’re all his. This will be going on all day long.”
Joanne’s birthday was also a milestone for the zoo, as she was delivered by cesarean section, which Sexton said is really unusual for gorillas.
“We were able to lean in on human medicine, and so we had OB-GYN and neonatologist nurses and everything,” Sexton said. “Once she was well enough to go into the troop, they all went back together, and within a couple of hours she was nursing, and it was a huge team effort, and fortunately, it was a really successful ending.”
Unlike a birthday for human 5-year-olds, Joanne’s party wasn’t at Chuck E. Cheese’s and there was no bounce house in the compound.
Instead, keepers made her a variety of primate-appropriate treats, including a butterfly made out of fruit, cupcakes and an “ice cream” sandwich made with a banana biscuit, raisins and mashed-up bananas replacing actual ice cream.
You can see the primate birthday party in the video above, but be warned: When gorillas party, they don’t monkey around.
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