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San Francisco Zoo's baby gorilla gets a name: Hasani

March 11, 2009 |  9:25 pm

Hasani, the San Francisco Zoo's baby Western lowland gorilla

The San Francisco Zoo has announced that its baby Western lowland gorilla is nameless no more.  The little guy, who was born in December, was the subject of a baby-naming contest held by the zoo. 

After three weeks, 5,300 entries and an endearing but bizzare ritual involving cantaloupe, he has a name: Hasani.  (It means "handsome" in Swahili.)

The zoo encouraged entrants to choose names of African origin, although some strayed from that idea and suggested names including Gavin (after San Francisco mayor Newsom) and Sully.  A panel of judges narrowed the field to five but devised a method for the baby's father, a 27-year-old gorilla named Oscar Jonesy, to choose the winning name. 

They set five melons, color-coded to represent the five name finalists, on Jonesy's favorite rock in the zoo's gorilla enclosure.  After apparently deliberating for a few moments, Jonesy picked the green melon, "choosing" its corresponding name.

The name Hasani was submitted by Amanda VerPloeg of Oskaloosa, Iowa. 

More photos of Hasani -- and Jonesy contemplating the canteloupes -- after the jump.

Hasani, the San Francisco Zoo's baby Western lowland gorilla

Hasani, the San Francisco Zoo's baby Western lowland gorilla

Hasani, the San Francisco Zoo's baby Western lowland gorilla

Jonesy

-- Lindsay Barnett

Top photo: George Nikitin / Associated Press;  Others: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

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