Voters officially name newborn baby gorilla in National Smithsonian Zoo contest

The votes have been tallied, and the newborn baby gorilla at The National Smithsonian Zoo has officially been dubbed Zahra, the zoo announced via their Twitter Friday.  

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Photo via The National Zoo

Gorilla couple Calaya and Baraka welcomed the baby girl into their family on May 27. The National Smithsonian Zoo subsequently announced an online contest in which patrons could vote on the newborn gorilla’s name. Voters were given three choices, each of which were handpicked by zookeepers. 

Zahra received nearly half of the website’s votes, over 12,000 total. The name, which is Swahili in origin, means "beautiful flower". 

Zahra will have an important role to play for her species going forward. The western lowland gorilla is critically endangered. The species population has declined by an estimated 60% in the last two decades due to hunting and disease. Zahra’s birth is a sign of hope for the rapidly decreasing population. 

There are ways residents can help Zahra’s species continue to recover. The National Smithsonian Zoo urges patrons to be cognizant of how they dispose of their electronics. 

"One of the metals inside electronic devices, tantalum, is mined from areas in the Democratic Republic of the Congo where gorillas live," the zoo said via their Twitter page. "Recycling electronics that contain tantalum…can help protect gorilla habitat[s] by greatly reducing the demand for more expansive mining."

Residents can go see baby Zahra and her family at The National Smithsonian Zoo, which is open every day of the week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.