Special Birthday Marked at SF Zoo

Gorilla shunned by mother, accepted by surrogates

By Lori Preuitt
|  Tuesday, Dec 8, 2009  |  Updated 11:49 AM PDT
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Weirdest Creatures of the World

NBC Bay Area

Hasani, which means "handsome" in Swahili, peeks out from under a pile of wood shavings.

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Little did we know exactly one year ago at the close of 2008, a birth at the San Francisco Zoo would become one of the best stories of 2009.

A gorilla named Hasani was born on Dec. 8.

He quickly became famous around the world after he was shunned by his mother just after he was born.  The zoo stepped in and promised to raise him.

They spent months training surrogate parents of the gorilla persuasion to take over.  Surrogate aunts and uncles are also part of the little guy's current extended family.

The public has been enjoying watching Hasani bond with his new family everyday since June.  It will also be part of the zoo day on his birthday.

The San Francisco Ice Company donated what is being described as a magnificent ice cake filled with treats.  Hasani and her new peeps will be treated to the birthday cake Tuesday morning.

Hasani’s birth also had a scientific significance.  It was considered a milestone for the San Francisco Zoo, because it was the first birth of a western lowland gorilla in a decade and part of an important conservation breeding program for the endangered species.

Lori Preuitt wonders if Hasani will find a way to get the ice cake all over his face like normal one-year-olds.

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