Safari Park celebrates gorilla's first birthday - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Safari Park celebrates gorilla's first birthday

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The San Diego Zoo Safari Park's youngest gorilla began to celebrate his first birthday Friday with an ice cake filled with fruit and vegetables, the zoo said.

Monroe also began his birthday weekend -- the real day is Sunday -- with gifts in the form of toys, extra branches and leaves.

Zoo officials said Monroe was carried into the exhibit by his mother, Kokomo, but he crawled out of her arms to get at his cake. He also reached in the branches of trees to get toys and climbed into boxes filled with straw to forage for food.

"Monroe is a very busy little guy. He's climbing all over the place and he's very independent," said Peggy Sexton, senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. "He's getting into everything and is very curious."

Overnight campers from the Safari Park's Roar & Snore program sang happy birthday when Monroe came into view.

Monroe was born on June 17, 2011 to Kokomo and father Winston. Monroe is the first offspring for this pair and the first gorilla born at the Safari Park in 11 years.

Western lowland gorillas are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

The celebration will continue both Saturday and Sunday with more ice cakes, presents and toys.

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