“Kayembe” (Kah-YEM-Bay), meaning “extraordinary,” is the name of the baby gorilla born October 26 at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. The Zoo and Cleveland-based CrossCountry Mortgage (CCM) today revealed the name following a three-week naming campaign in support of gorilla conservation through the Zoo’s longtime partnership with the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. “Kayembe” made history as the first gorilla born at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo in its 139 years.

The naming campaign received over 600 donations, raising nearly $15,000 for the Fossey Fund in Rwanda. Named after conservation pioneer Dian Fossey, the Fossey Fund has been saving gorillas for more than 50 years.


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“Kayembe has captured the hearts of so many with his extraordinary birth and story,” said Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Executive Director Dr. Chris Kuhar. “The naming opportunity with CrossCountry Mortgage was our most popular naming campaign yet and will support critical conservation of this iconic species.”

An exclusive social media video series created in partnership with CrossCountry Mortgage continues to follow the baby’s growth and development and has received more than 850,000 views. At nearly four months old, Kayembe continues to be in nearly constant contact with surrogate mom, Freddy. He recently reached a new developmental milestone when he began crawling and exploring his habitat within a few feet of mom.

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“We are thrilled that friends of the Zoo nationwide have embraced this important new member of the Northeast Ohio community,” said Laura Soave, Chief Brand Officer for CCM. “Kayembe is truly extraordinary in every respect, and we are enjoying the opportunity to follow his growth and development.”

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Guests visiting Cleveland Metroparks Zoo can visit Kayembe and the gorilla troop at the Primate, Cat & Aquatics building daily between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.


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