The votes have been tallied, and Como Park Zoo and Conservatory's new gorilla has a name: Nyati.
More than 700 zoo visitors cast their ballots during last weekend's Go Great Apes festivities, and 62 percent of voters chose to name zoo's three-week old female baby western lowland gorilla Nyati (pronounced Nie-ot-e).
Nyati was the name zookeepers had put forth to be included on the ballot. The suggestion from the Horticulture staff, Lucy, came in a distant second with 27 percent of the vote while Rocky, proposed by the mayor's office, barely broke double figures with 11 percent of the vote, zoo officials said.
Nyati was born Oct. 18 to mother Alice and father Schroeder, a 31-year-old silverback western lowland gorilla. With her arrival, the family now includes Nne (29 and pronounced E-Nee), Dara, 14, Dara's baby, Arlene, 2, Alice, 15, and baby Nyati.
"Mom and baby are doing great, better than we can imagine," said zoo spokesman Matt Reinartz.
Nyati means unicorn or African buffalo in Swahili. The zookeepers suggested the name because the gorilla baby is beautiful and magical like a unicorn, Reinartz said.
Guests won't be able to see the new arrival any time soon. The family troop will remain off exhibit, allowing Alice and Nyati to bond.
The zoo's three other western lowland gorillas, Jabir, Samson and Virgil, all 18-year-old males, are on exhibit daily.
Native to the lowland forests of Central and Western Africa, western lowland gorillas are on the critically endangered species list. Como participates in the Species Survival Plan to ensure the population remains healthy, genetically diverse and self-sustaining, Reinartz said.
With Nyati's arrival, Como now has nine western lowland gorillas.
Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768