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Your morning adorable: San Francisco's young gorilla, Hasani, has a birthday party

December 15, 2009 | 11:55 am

Hasani, the San Francisco Zoo's young western lowland gorilla, celebrated a milestone last week -- his first birthday!  To mark the occasion, the zoo brought in a specially made birthday cake and invited the public to celebrate along with him.

When Hasani was rejected by his birth mother, Monifa, zoo staff picked up the slack, caring for him around the clock until a suitable gorilla-parent replacement was found.  In April, surrogate mother Bawang took over his care and the pair have been thriving ever since!  Zoo staff have gradually introduced Hasani to his fellow gorillas and report that he is now a full-fledged member of the group.  He enjoys playing with the other members of the troop -- including, interestingly, birth mother Monifa.

"It's been amazing to watch him develop and grow into a young gorilla," Corinne MacDonald, the zoo's curator of primates, said of the eventful past year.  "Hasani has become an ambassador for his species, which is critically endangered, and to know he is impacting and inspiring our visitors is rewarding."

Hasani means "handsome" in Swahili; the name was chosen through a  contest in which members of the public offered more than 5,000 name suggestions.  Zoo staff narrowed the field to five and gave Hasani's father, Oscar Jonesy, the opportunity to choose the winning name.  (If you're wondering how a gorilla selects a name for his infant son, we'll give you one hint: Cantaloupes.)

-- Lindsay Barnett

Video: SFZoo via YouTube

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