NORFOLK, Va. (WRIC) — The latest baby ape at the Virginia Zoo now has a new name that pays tribute to a late ecologist.
Back in August, the zoo opened a naming contest for their newest baby siamang, which was born in June. On Friday, Sept. 9, zoo announced the winning name.
According to the Virginia Zoo, the name was chosen by a donor gave $2,000 to support the zoo’s wildlife fund, and decided to name the Siamang “Lovejoy.”
The name is in honor of the donor’s family friend, Dr. Thomas E. Lovejoy, who was a renowned conservationist and ecologist. According to the zoo, Dr. Lovejoy is credited with coining the term “biodiversity”, served on scientific advisory councils for three different presidential administrations and spent more than 40 years researching, educating, and advocating for the Amazon and its tropical wilderness. Dr. Lovejoy passed away last year.
Little Lovejoy is a siamang, which is a type of gibbons. Gibbons are primates and are also known as “lesser apes.” They are native to Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand and known best for their unique vocals and “songs,” which can be heard more than a mile away. According to the zoo, the species is listed as critically endangered due to destruction of their habitats and hunting.
Lovejoy was born on June 26, and zoo staff is excited for what the new baby means to not only the zoo but the endangered species.
“A siamang birth is an important addition to this critically endangered lesser ape,” Greg Bockheim, Virginia Zoo executive director, said. “And watching a baby grow and engage with its family is special for all of us.”
For now, the zoo says that the siamang family can be seen in their dayroom on the zoo’s Trail of the Tiger from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The zoo is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is located at 3500 Grandby Street in Norfolk. Daily admission is $17.95 for anyone 12 and older, $15.95 for seniors 62 years old and older, and $14.95 for children under 12.