Zoo Knoxville’s baby gorilla named after ‘community visionary’

"Andi" the Western lowland gorilla
"Andi" the Western lowland gorilla

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The newest baby at Zoo Knoxville was named “Andi” in honor of Andie Ray, a community visionary who loved gorillas and supported Zoo Knoxville’s work to save Western lowland gorillas from extinction.

The baby Western lowland gorilla was born on September 10, 2016. She is the third gorilla born in Knoxville to mother Kowali and father Bantu.

“Andie was someone who cared deeply about her community and embodied the philosophy that one person can create positive change.  Just as Andie made a difference in Knoxville, this gorilla is important to the survival of this critically endangered species,” says Lisa New, President and CEO of Zoo Knoxville.

Ray passed away unexpectedly in December 2015, according to the zoo. They said she was instrumental in connecting the Ray family to gorillas at Zoo Knoxville. The Ray family named the first gorilla ever born at the zoo, Obi, whose name means “heart”, in June of 2015.  They said the name “Andi” means “brave, strong, valiant and courageous”.

“Andi is the half-sister to 15-month-old Obi and Ubuntu, who have been very inquisitive about their new sibling.  All three babies will spend the next several years growing up in Knoxville, and when age-appropriate may move to other zoos on breeding recommendations as part of the Western Lowland Gorilla Species Survival Plan, which is working to save gorillas from extinction.”

The zoo said there are fewer than 10,000 Western lowland gorilla estimated in the wild. They are classified as a critically endangered species.

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