The ceremony for naming a baby gorilla in Rwanda is called Kwita Izina. As part of a public outreach campaign for endangered gorillas, the naming practice was created for the beloved animals. This year the naming of two baby gorillas was part of the United Nations World Environment Day celebration. A baby gorilla was named Zoya, after the name was submitted by a Twitter follower of UNEPandYou. Zoya means twilight in Iranian, alive in Greek, and God’s gift in Arabic. Zoya was the People’s Choice winning name, which is for adults. The naming competition for children is called Kids Choice, and the winning name was Waka Waka, which means to light up in Swahili. Waka Waka was also submitted by a Twitter follower of the same United Nations Environment Program account. Each name was voted on by visitors to a website to determine the top vote-getters.
American actor Don Cheadle announced the winning name of Zoya, and wildlife photographer Luo Hong announced the winning name of Waka Waka. Cheadle recently was named a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Environment Program. He was a lead actor in the film Hotel Rwanda, which depicted aspects of the genocide in Rwanda. Luo Hong is an accomplished wildlife photographer, and entrepreneur.
Rwanda is home to about one third of the world’s remaining 750 critically endangered mountain gorillas. Kwita Izina’s first gorilla-naming event was in 2005. Since then 103 baby gorillas have been named during the annual ceremonies.
World Environment Day 2010 reportedly raised $85,000 for gorilla conservation.
Image Credit: Mape_S