While she prefers to stay tucked in close to mom, and dad is not about let anyone get to close, a baby gorilla named Bella is the new star of the show at Lincoln Park Zoo’s ape exhibit.
Officials at the North Side zoo announced Friday that the endangered western lowland gorilla born Feb. 24 has been named Bella in honor of a member of the Regenstein family, a statement from the zoo said.
“The Regenstein family has been integral in helping build the zoo into the state-of-the-art conservation leader it is today,” Kevin Bell, zoo president and CEO, said in the statement. “Through their support, we have successfully developed one of the most advanced great ape education and conservation centers in the world.”
While Bella is the new belle of the Regenstein Center Center for African Apes, she is not quite prepared for a proper debut.
“Bella is staying tucked close to her mother Bahati, 27, while father Kwan, 26, keeps a watchful eye,” the statement said.
She is the newest member of a troop of six, including 2-year-old half-sisters Nayembi and Patty, born in the fall of 2012.
Susan Regensteon, president of the Regenstein Foundation, said, “My father instilled a love for nature and animals in me from an early age, when we visited the zoo in my childhood.” Of primates, she addeed, “You look in their eyes and there is a communication there.”
The central African native Western lowland gorillas are critically endangered by habitat loss and poaching, making the zoo’s conservation efforts even more important.
Belle is the 52nd gorilla born in Lincoln Park, and “joins a legacy of conservation and care for this endangered species that stretches from Chicago to the wild forests of the Republic of Congo’s Goualougo Triangle,” the statement said.
The gorilla family can be seen 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily, and at 1:30 p.m. they participate in training or computer cognition sessions with zoo staff.