The 55th birthday of a western lowland gorilla at the San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park will be celebrated this weekend, park officials announced.
Vila is one of the oldest known gorillas, according to zoo staff. Her actual birthday is unknown, since she was rescued from the wild.
She was hand-raised at the zoo and moved to what was then known as the Wild Animal Park in 1975.
She has served as the surrogate mother to several young gorillas being raised by animal care staff, including one now, 1-year-old Monroe.
Vila also has participated in a six-year study on the intelligence of great apes and, in 1965, was the first gorilla to give birth in San Diego, zoo administrators said.
Safari Park staff will help Vila and members of her troop mark the birthday by providing extra treats and what they call “enrichment presents.”
The Safari Park has six western lowland gorillas, a species listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.